The Best Way To Use Up Expired Spices

Whether you're a fan of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning, blends like Creole or Cajun seasoning, or just simple add-ins like salt and pepper, every spice mixture goes bad eventually. But they often take awhile to expire, which is why many people don't realize their aromatics are no good anymore or even bother to check the dates. Luckily, the consequences aren't too severe if you use an expired spice — the worst that can happen is that it will lose its color, flavor, or potency. But considering the whole point of spices is to add flavor, it's ideal to use them up while they're still good.

You can take your time using up spices — to an extent. The time it takes for a spice to go bad depends on the type – ground spices typically only retain peak freshness for about six months, while whole spices can last for up to five years (per Food Network). But despite your best efforts, it's inevitable that some lesser-used spices will eventually lose a little freshness. If you have some varieties that are too bland to use in cooking but that you don't want to throw away, there is a tasty way to repurpose expired spices.

Make easy, spice-infused oil

If you have old spices, don't toss them in the trash — they may not taste as strong anymore, but they can be used to make spice-infused oils. You may even save money by doing this too, as store-bought infused oils can be pricey, and companies may even use flavorings to mask lower-quality oils. By making them at home, you can ensure you're using a high-caliber oil and control the amount of spice you add in.

There's a few different ways to infuse your oil with expired spices. The easiest is to simply place your spices and oil in a sealed container, and let the mixture sit for up to six weeks before draining out the solids. To ensure the two ingredients really meld together, try heating up your aromatics in a pan with the oil until they sizzle. After the infusion takes place, you can drain out the spices and you'll be left with an oil that can be used right away. An alternative method, if you don't want to deal with hot oil crackling in a pan, is to place a jar of oil and spices in a simmering water bath until they infuse.

Whichever technique you use, feel free to use your imagination when it comes to flavor combinations. Try a mixture of herbs, spices, seasonings, or even fun ingredients like cinnamon sticks and red pepper flakes — and you can even add in some non-expired spices too.