Most people don’t realize it, but spices tend to go stale quicker than you think especially store-bought ones. That bottle of oregano you bought at the store five years ago, barely smells but has no brown specks yet so, it must be fine right? WRONG! One thing you may be surprised to learn is that when you buy a supermarket spice, it may already be as much as a year old before you even take it home and use it for the first time. As a result, the spice you just bought may have already lost more than half its flavor! (more about store-bought spices vs. our gourmet spices here)
Here are a few tips for having a quality, fresh, and gourmet spice cabinet.
A proper selection and good quality of a spice can elevate the flavor of any preparation. Freshness is the main thing to look for in a spice; the fresher, the strongest the smell and purest the taste. For this, you need to take into account the supply chain of the seller. Having a shorter supply chain means having fewer hands, storages and transportations handling the product, which results in a fresher, more flavorful spice. Read here all about our supply chain.
Spices are filled with volatile oils; these oils contain organic chemical compounds inherent to the plant that gives the spices its smell and flavor. Volatile oils tend to vaporize and oxidize changing its taste in the process. Rub a little bit of the spice in your hand to activate it, if a weak smell emerges from it it’s time to toss it.
A fresh, quality product should have a bright and strong color. If that paprika at the back of your cabinet is looking pale or faded… it’s time to toss it.
Moisture is the #1 enemy of your dry spices. If you can identify big clumps and the product is sticking to the sides of its container, most likely, it is stored where it shouldn’t be, or it sat next to steam for too long. This means most of the volatile oils in the spice have oxidized much faster than they should and your spice will never taste the same.
Is the most obvious one, but also the most reliable test you can do to your spices. If you used to sprinkle just little of Aleppo pepper to get the flavor you were looking for, and now a spoon full won’t do, it’s a sign your spice has passed its prime.
Now that you have tossed all your old spices it’s time to invest in quality gourmet spices, but you might be wondering how to store spices to preserve their flavor? Here are a few tips:
Following these simple recommendations will help you preserve the quality of your spices and herbs. Taking care of your spices is taking care of your food, and the outcome will be gourmet quality in every dish!