The Best Ways to Store Spices
Author: Michelle Scott Date Posted:9 August 2021
There is nothing better than getting in a fresh range of spices for your pantry.
The colours and heady aromas of fresh spices are an instant inspiration for your next meal. Whether it is an Indian curry, spicy chicken or roasted vegetables dusted with your favourite spice or blend.
It can be quite an expense to replenish your store so it’s best to ensure you are storing them in the best way possible to keep the colour, flavour and benefits active for as long as possible. Air, light, moisture and heat speed the loss of flavour and colour so correct storage will ensure that you get the results you are looking for.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your valuable spices.
- Store spices in a cool, dark dry place. This could be the back of your pantry cupboard or in an airtight container. Make sure your container is not plastic or clear glass. A pull out drawer, wooden box, pottery container or a tin would work well to protect them from light and rapid oxidisation.
If like me you live in a hot, humid area you could consider storing your spices in the fridge, however while refrigeration helps protect them from the light, the condensation caused by removing and replacing them in the fridge is captured in the container causing flavour loss and lumpiness. Some people choose to package them up into smaller amounts and store them in the freezer.
- Keep each individual spice in a closed airtight container when you are not using it. Keep your containers as full as possible particularly if the spices are already ground and put them away as soon as you have used them. Whole spices such as black peppercorns and mustard seeds are definitely more robust, however the convenience of ground spices often outweighs going through the grinding process at home. If you prefer to grind your own spices you can use either a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee grinder to good effect. Spice blends such as mild and medium curries and garam masala are obviously the best puchased already ground and mixed.
- While it is recommended that you keep your spices in dark, dry, airtight conditions like most things there are the exceptions to the rule. These are the red spices, ie. cayenne, chilli and paprika. These spices contain capsaicin which gives them their colouring. Keeping them in the fridge will help maintain the colour and freshness. It’s a good idea to ensure that you use and put them away quickly to reduce the amount of moisture collecting in their containers.
- Keep your spices away from any heat source in your kitchen. That includes the stove, sink, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator and any heating vents. When you are adding spices to your cooking keep them away from steam and use a clean dry spoon.
- Buy smaller amounts of each spice so you can ensure you are using it all up by the recommended best by date. If in doubt smell your spices before use. If there is no scent that means they aren’t going to have the desired result in your cooking and it’s time to replace them. A good idea could be to throw them on the tray when you are grilling to get the very last out of the flavour. Always rotate your spices so that you are using the oldest first.
In the case of Asafoetida
Ensure that your double check the seals when storing asafoetida. It is extremely pungent and as such the smell can taint other products in your pantry and spread through your house. There are two main forms of asafoetida. The full-strength dried gum which is very rare in Australia and the more common powdered form that has been diluted with arrowroot or brown rice flour. Regardless it should be used sparingly and extra care taken when storing it with other spices.