How to best store your herbs and spices

Our kitchens - and our lives - would be a blander place without herbs and spices. They add flavor and excitement to food, making them your best friends and closest allies when you’re cooking. Just like all other friends, it’s important to treat them right. Thankfully, looking after herbs and spices isn’t too tricky. The single best way to do this? Storing them well.

A classic and convenient way to do this is with a spice rack or carousel - something that we believe every kitchen needs. Luckily for you, we have several excellent ones to choose from. Our range includes herbs and spice carousels that come with 8 jars, 16 jars, or 20 jars, so you can easily select one depending on how many different herbs and spices your cooking usually requires. Sleek and easy to store, this would be an asset to any kitchen.

However, if you want to know a little more about storing herbs and spices like a pro, keep reading…

How long do spices and dry herbs last?

spices stored in small open white bowls

Herbs and spices don’t go off like most other foods - they’ll never get moldy or make you feel ill - but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they last a long time. Spices should always have strong colors, strong aromas, and strong flavors. Unfortunately, this strength fades after a while, making them practically useless (nobody wants a dull curry or a chili con carne that has no kick). There are only a few spices whose potency never fades, the most famous of which are salt and vanilla.

However, the time it takes for herbs and spices to lose their strength varies. Whole spices like peppercorns, fennel seeds, and lemongrass are the most resilient spices, with their flavor and vibrancy lasting up to four years. Ground spices like ground cumin, ground paprika, ground ginger, and chili powder aren’t quite so durable - their flavor usually begins to ebb six months after you’ve bought them and they’ll become too weak to infuse your cooking with flavor after about two years.

Herbs aren’t much better, with dry herbs such as basil, oregano, and rosemary lasting about one to three years, depending on how well you store them.

How to tell if your herbs and spices are too old

cole and mason spice jar carousel to store herbs and spices

If you have some herbs and spices hanging around at the back of the cupboard and you want to check if they’re still good to use, you should crush them up and see how they smell. Spices should always smell vibrant, so if a lively aroma doesn’t immediately fill your nostrils when they’re crushed then it probably won’t give your cooking much pizzazz. To double check, you can always sample a bit and see if it tingles your taste buds or simply check the color - a dull-cultured spice is often a dull-flavored spice.

Forgetting about your herbs and spices in a cupboard or drawer is always disappointing. But don’t worry, our carousel can prevent this from happening. Its unique design allows the herbs and spices to rotate smoothly, making finding your chosen flavorings easier than ever. No more frustration at rummaging through countless jars in your cupboard for a specific ingredient!

How to store spices and herbs

Storing spices and herbs well is the key to keeping them fresh and flavorful and luckily it’s not too difficult. It’s important to remember that air is their worst enemy. This is because exposure to oxygen dilutes the flavors of herbs and spices, so make sure you keep them in an airtight container. It’s also a good idea to ensure they are in a cool and dry place away from heat or sunlight.

Luckily, all jars in our herb and spice carousels are glass and foil sealed to maximize longevity. The carousel is also super easy to store, perfect for taking pride of place on a cool countertop (just make sure that it’s not too near the oven) or for slipping easily into a cupboard. If that wasn’t convenient enough, they’re also easy to clean - the carousel itself can be wiped with a damp cloth and the jars can be washed in warm soapy water.

Tips for keeping herbs and spices fresh

Whilst storing them correctly is the best way to keep your herbs and spices fresh, it’s also a good idea to shop wisely. Unless you’re planning to cook for all your friends every night, we advise against bulk-buying herbs and spices (only a professional chef needs a 5kg bag of paprika) because they’ll weaken before you have a chance to use them.

spices at a market

However, if you’ve already done a little bulk-buying and have bags of herbs and spices to use up before they lose their vibrancy, our top tip is to cook with them like they’re going out of fashion. After all, being liberal with flavorings is a great way to add extra oomph to your food, so sprinkle lots in.

You can even get adventurous with spices by adding them to your bakes and sweet treats. Chili dark chocolate brownies? Yes please. Orange and coriander cake? Oh, if you insist…

How often should you replace your herbs and spices?

To get the most out of your herbs and spices, you should replace them as regularly as possible. When it comes to whole spices, we recommend replacing them at least every four years and when it comes to ground spices, we recommend replacing them once a year.

By doing this, you’ll know that your herb and spice supply is always fresh and vibrant, letting you cook up yummy curries, soups, and risottos, safe in the knowledge that your meals will be bursting with irresistible flavor every single time. Your next dinner party will definitely be a hit.

And don’t forget to spice up your kitchen with a brand new herb and spice carousel, you’ll need it when you’re cooking up a storm...

The serving board every kitchen needs for expert entertaining. Choose from small, medium and large to present your best culinary creations.