Herbs and Spices Shelf Life


Herbs and Spices Shelf Life
PantryRefrigeratorFreezer
Spices, whole1-3 years- -2-3 years
Spices, ground6-12 months- -1-2 years
Herb/Spice Blends, opened1 year- -- -
Herb/Spice Blends, unopened2 years- -- -
Herbs6-12 months- -1-2 years
Chili Powder6 months- -- -
Herbs, flakes or crushed6-12 months- -- -
Fresh Herbs- -Up to 1 week- -
Garlic1 month1-2 weeks1 month
Handling Tips: 
Store in airtight containers in dry places away from sunlight and heat.
Whole cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks maintain quality beyond 2 year period.
Dried spices and herbs don't spoil; they just gradually lose their aroma and taste. If properly stored, they may be fine well past the "use by" date. Color aroma, and taste are all indicators of quality. Check potency by pouring a small amount in the palm of your hand (if seeds, crush first) and then sniff. If the scent is gone, discard the spice.
According to the experts at the Spice House, freezing won't hurt dried spices and herbs, but it probably won't extend their shelf life either.
Whole spices last longer than ground ones. For best quality, buy whole spices and grind them yourself just before use.
Refrigerate and DO NOT freeze fresh herbs. Basil is the most fragile. If it turns gray, discard it.
Source(s): 
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

"Cupboard Storage Chart." K-State Research and Extension n. pag. Web. 23 Dec 2009. <http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/humannutrition/hrap/storage/cupstor.htm>.

Desi at The Spice House, Evanston, Illinois