The Best Way To Store Cumin And How Long It Lasts In The Pantry

A spice cabinet is the backbone of every kitchen. Within it lies a multitude of flavors and sensations that can make or break the outcome of a dish. At the front, you probably keep a starting lineup of salt, pepper, and your go-to seasonings for your everyday cuisine. At the back lies a graveyard of long-forgotten spices that you used for just one or two recipes. Not to worry, it isn't like seasonings ever expire — or do they? If you have some lesser-used spices on hand — like cumin, for example — you will want to be sure you know exactly how to keep it fresh and how long it will be good for in order to keep its flavor as high-quality as possible.

Cumin is the dried seed of a type of parsley plant. Like other dried products, it is important to keep cumin away from excess moisture and heat. For best results, store your cumin in an airtight container that is placed in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight. When stored in this way, whole cumin seeds will last for up to four years. Meanwhile, ground cumin will last for up to three.

Using cumin before it goes bad

While cumin that is stored correctly will last quite a while, the quality of this spice begins to degrade much sooner than one would expect. No matter what, cumin will gradually lose flavor and aroma over time until its traits are barely detectable. Whole cumin tends to experience this effect around the six-month mark, while ground cumin will turn bland within just three months. If you are unsure about the quality of your cumin, be sure to smell and taste it to test its potency. Other hints that it is time to toss the spice are a change in color or visual evidence of moisture or mold.

While there are some ways to slightly extend the shelf life of your cumin, like opting for whole seeds versus ground spice — or even storing it in the freezer — the best way to ensure you are using cumin before it deteriorates is simply to use it more often. There are so many cuisines and delicious dishes that use this spice, from Mexican and Indian to North African and Mediterranean. If you aren't sure where to start, we recommend trying out our savory cumin-roasted squash and feta panini or our warming spiced dal breakfast bowl.