How long do spices last?

Joined Jan 24, 2009
Awhile ago I was watching the food channel and Alton Brown made a comment that ground spices last under a year in the shelf. I noticed some of my spices are 2-5 years
old..nutmeg, cummin just to name a few...What does everyone think.
Joined Jan 5, 2007
I don't keep spices for more than 6 months - they seem to lose all their pungency.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Heat, light, and oxygen are the big enemies of all spices, but of ground spices in particular.

One year is the generally accepted lengh of time for ground spices to remain viable. How you store them affects that, of course. And, obviously, "in general" means a particular jar can last a longer or shorter time.

The question arise, too, "how long from when?" That jar of ground cumin you bought "fresh" may have been sitting around in a warehouse for six months before even getting to the supermarket shelf.

Note that all of this refers specifically to ground or otherwise processed spices. Whole spices, in general, can last many years. That's what made the spice trade possible (often enough spice caravans lasted two-three years or more).

For an effectiveness viewpoint, you should be buying whole spices anyway, and grinding them yourself. That's how you assure maximum potency as well as shelf life.
Joined Feb 24, 2009
I purchase my spices at our local healthfood store. They have a much better flavor, aroma, and color than those in the supermarket and are usually several dollars (some times tens of dollars) less a pound than those in the supermarkets. Plus I can buy just what i want to for the amount as i can measure it myself. That was if i need a spice for a recipe that i dont think i will use again for a long time i can just buy what i need for that recipe.

I agree about buying the whole spice and grinding it yourself but i admit iam very quilty of buying preground ones too.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Used to be 6 mos for herbs 1 year for spices.....just taste and smell.
KY was right on....whole is best.
Joined Dec 7, 2009
I keep mine in the refrigerator, even before opening. It just keeps them fresh and I don't have to worry about watching expiration dates.
Joined Sep 16, 2009
Its not actually necessary to stuck spices for 2-5 years for sure it will turns to dust. And its possible to ruined the place where you placing them. Even if putting it on ref doesn't last longer then the aroma and taste is being affected. No one would like to eat food that is 2-5 years old.
Joined Dec 2, 2009
I am lucky enough to have 2 refrigerators and a large upsight freezer. One of the small freezers is dedicated to the storage of herbs and spices. The worst enemy of these expensive ingredients is heat...I grind my teeth and scream at the TV when watching a kitchen remodel show that brags about the expensive, custom 'spice rack or drawer' located next to or directly over the cooktop.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
I totslly agree. Most kitchens are designed that was unfortunatley - the heat shortens the shelf life by miles. Yes it is handy to keep them near or above the stove. It's not good for the spices, so it's worse in the long (or even short) term
Joined Mar 12, 2005
I have a big bag of bay leaves I bought 3 years ago, that isn't even half gone yet.

....the price seemed so good at the time.
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