If you’re anything like Ree Drummond, you’ve got a spice cabinet packed to the gills with all sorts of spice jars for every type of recipe. The only problem is that you might have bought a jar of dill or nutmeg that you only use a few times a year, which prompts the questions: Do spices go bad? And if so, how long do spices last? Read on to find out what you should do for each type of spice, including ground spices, dried herbs, and whole spices. Should you hang onto them indefinitely, or should you be rotating them in and out more frequently?
The very best way to tell if your ground spices are still good to use is to open the jar and take a good whiff. Do they smell fragrant and like the spice they're supposed to smell like? If they just smell like nothing, or only smell very faintly, then it's probably time to toss them and buy a new jar the next time you’re at the store, since their shelf life is anywhere from six months to two years. Whole herb leaves like parsley, oregano, and dill will last you one to three years.
If you have jars of whole spices like nutmeg, allspice, or peppercorns, then they have a little longer of a lifespan. Since they aren’t ground, their fragrant oils will stay intact longer, so you can count on those lasting up to 3 or 4 years.
Once you have your spices all freshened up, try making some of Ree's best recipes with them! Use ground cumin and paprika in Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili, chili powder in Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas, warm cinnamon in Cinnamon Baked French Toast, or dried dill and chives in zesty Garlic-Ranch Party Mix. You can even make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice for fall!
Can I use spices past the recommended times above?
You can, but they'll lose a lot of their flavor and pungency.
When should I throw out my spices?
If you know you’ve had the spices for five years or more, then you should definitely toss them and treat your pantry to some fresh ones!