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How Long Do Spices Really Last?

We hate to break it to you, but your spices can go bad
Spice Rack
Photo: Lenore Edman via Flickr

News flash: Those long-forgotten spices in your cupboard have probably expired. While you’ve been busy replacing the perishable contents of your fridge, you are likely neglecting your pantry, which, surprisingly, is full of foodstuffs that need replacing. Chief among them? All those spices.

According to Karen Page of the The Flavor Bible, spices should be replaced every six to 12 months.

Everyone who’s guilty of keeping spices longer than a year, raise your hand. Everyone who’s replaced the contents of their spice rack each year, WHO ARE YOU? (And why haven’t you been sharing this knowledge with the rest of us?)

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As a general rule of thumb, whole spices last longer than ground spices, and opinions vary on the life span. Some people say whole spices can last up to four years, and ground spices anywhere between one and three years.

Using old spices might not necessarily be bad for your health, but it is bad for your taste buds, as the flavor weakens over time. The bottom line: Newer spices add more impact to your dishes, so if possible, replace them at least every year. As they say, “Variety is the spice of life.” Eh? Eh?

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