[Sca-cooks] How long do whole spices last??

Stephanie Ross hlaislinn at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 7 09:08:03 PDT 2006

Niccolo wrote:

It probably lost some punch over the years, but I would say that with proper
handling, 5 years is not out of the question. Freezing some spices can make
them last still longer . . . . my long pepper is going on 6 years, or longer
in the freeze, vaccuum sealed. Just like 'new'.
I think it would depend on what part of the plant the spices came from.
Leaves are very delicate and gradually lose potency after about a year.
Ground spices last about as long. Berries like whole cloves, juniper and
pepper keep longer. I think the long pepper if whole would keep about
indefinitely. A big wake-up call on what herbs actually smell like freshly
dried came to me when I worked at the health-food store several years ago.
They carried Frontier herbs in bulk. The little jars of cardamom you buy
for $12 or so at the grocery are ancient beyond belief. Freshly ground
cardamom will clear your sinuses due to its strong camphor/menthol smell.
Ground it doesn't keep long before it loses that pungency. I really need to
go through my stored herbs and get rid of the old stuff. They've been
sitting in storage in Florida for about 6 years. I will only keep the ones
that don't have a certain shelf life, or the ones I will have a hard time
replacing. I wonder if my ma huong is still good? It is in chips. I'll have
to make a tea out of it and see.

Et si omnes ego non.

PS Welcome back Phillipa! I remember you were always good for informative

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