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Do Spices Go Bad?

Do Spices Go Bad?

Eventually, food goes bad. Yes, you can extend the life of food through refrigeration and freezing, but eventually, it will get to the point where it needs to be thrown out.

This is why expiration dates are used. They are very useful and tell people when food should be eaten, refrigerated, or frozen.

Not only can food go bad, but so can spice. They are ingestible, so they can get to a point where they can’t be eaten.

In this article, you will learn if spices can go bad, how long they can last, and other information that will help you make an informed decision.

Can Spices Go Bad, and if So, How Long Do They Last?

It may be surprising for you to learn that spices can go bad, but they can! Anything that we can ingest can go badly, and this includes medication. There are different spices out there, and they all last a different amount of time. This includes:

  • Whole spices can stay fresh for about four or five years. Peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, whole nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks are just a few examples of whole spices.
  • Ground spices, or ones that are in powder form, last about two to three years. Garlic powder, ground cinnamon, ground paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and ground allspice are a few examples of ground spices.
  • Dried and ground herbs last one to three years depending on the one in question. Oregano, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, and mint are a few examples of dried and ground herbs.
  • The only spices or extracts that will last indefinitely are vanilla extract and salt.

You do have to pay attention to what spice or herb you are using because it is not a size that fits all things.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Spices?

You will be happy to know that the chance of you getting ill from expired spices is unlikely to make you sick.

Could you become sick? Perhaps, but the chances are very, very slim. Spices are one of the few things you can consume past the expiration date that won’t have any bad side effects on your body.

Now there is one bad thing about using spices that have gone past their expiration date. A spice that has expired can lose a lot of its potency, flavor, and color.

It doesn’t matter how much of it you use. The spice has simply lost most of its flavor, so it isn’t going to flavor your meat.

If you are cooking or eating particularly bland food and use an expired spice, it’s going to keep tasting bland. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can make the eating process rather unpleasant and not very fun.

How To Tell if Spices Are Bad

There are two proven ways to tell if your spices are bad. The more difficult way is to use it while cooking, despite the expiration date passing.

After you’ve finished cooking, then taste the food. If you don’t taste anything or are unable to taste much of the spice you added, then chances are it’s bad.

We know this is the long and more difficult way of telling if your spices have truly gone bad. The easier way only takes a few minutes and might be easier for some people.

To do this, all you have to do is pour some of the spice into your hand. Either rub or crush it into the palm and your hand and then taste/sniff it.

If you do not taste and/or smell much, then they have gone bad and should be replaced.

Spices do not go bad in the traditional way. It is not like how meat, fruits, or vegetables go bad.

They spoil in a much more subtle manner, so you have to do some investigating to find out if the spices you have purchased have truly gone bad.

How to Safely Store Spices

To make sure your spices keep their flavor and potency for their entire shelf life, there are a few steps you can take. These include:

  • Spices should be kept in an environment that is cool, dry, and dark. A good place for this is a cabinet or something. Best to keep it away from the stove because the heat could hurt it.
  • The best way to store your spices is in glass or ceramic containers. If you store them in this kind of container, then you won’t have to worry about moisture or air getting up in there and ruining your spices.
  • It’s best not to store spices in tin, plastic, or stainless steel containers. Either they aren’t good at keeping out moisture, or they draw heat more easily than other types of containers.
  • For the most part, spices don’t have to be kept in the fridge. You can put red spices in the fridge if you want because it helps keep the red color in the spice.

By following these four simple rules, you’ll be able to safely store your spices and ensure that they retain their flavor and potency.

The great thing is they last a long time, so you don’t have to worry about them expiring for over a year or so.

Final Thoughts

And there you go, all your flavor lovers out there! You may be surprised to learn that spices can go bad, but even spices have expiration dates, and you must abide by those.

Sometimes accidents can happen, which is why we felt it was important to tell you the signs of spices going bad and how to properly store them from going bad prematurely.

Spices are a type of food that we love to use and, in some cases, have to.

The biggest issue when using them once they expire is that the flavor might be pretty much gone from it. This is why it’s so important to use them before they have expired!

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