Spices don't actually 'go off', though they may alter in their colour and appearance during storage. They may get paler and will lose their flavour, getting less pungent over time. This can affect the taste of your cooking so it's worth while keeping a check on your spices from time to time.
If a box or jar of spices is left unopened in it's shop bought container, then it will remain useable for up to 2 to 3 years (definitely worth knowing.) Whole unground spices like cinnamon sticks or peppercorns have the longest life in store as they are less fragile.
Once opened, used and decanted into a container whole spices will last longer than ground ones. For whole spices, use them up within 2 years, and for best results use ground spices within 6 to 9 months.
Goodness...it doesn't stop there when it comes to storage tips... Herbs and Spices do not like direct light as this will make them fade and lose their taste too... Decant them into a non see-through container such as a spice jar or spice tin to protect them.
While light damage is to not too serious favour-wise it does make them look pale and less appealing if using them as a garnish.
So to sum up:
Decant Spices into a dry container which is not made of clear glass
Keep your Spice Jars or Tins in a cool place away from steamy pots and pans
Keep the lid on your Spices
Go through your Spices on a yearly basis (if not sooner), replace any that have lost their spicy aroma and 'zing'
You can purchase vintage spices jars and tins form the 1960s and 70s from yay retro! by clicking here
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