Spices give dishes that certain something. But spices must also be used and stored professionally. There are a few things to keep in mind when buying spices.
How to properly store spices
Spices and herbs not only provide wonderful aromas, but they usually also have extremely healing properties. Because it doesn’t matter whether it’s turmeric, cumin, basil, cloves, oregano, or pepper, they all have a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-cancer effect. Some also have a specific antidiabetic, blood pressure-lowering, or blood-fat-lowering effect, while others even have a special anti-viral effect.
However, herbs and spices only do this if they are bought in good quality, stored correctly, and used correctly.
Buy spices in organic quality
It is best to choose organic spices. The risk of pesticide residues is lower here, and at the same time, you are promoting environmentally friendly agriculture. In contrast to conventionally produced spices, organic spices are not radioactively irradiated to preserve them.
Although fumigation with chemicals for preservation purposes is banned in the EU, many spices are imported from overseas, so potential contamination with conventional spices cannot be ruled out.
Buy spices in light-protected packaging
Do not buy spices that come in clear containers. So only buy your spices and dried herbs in light-protected bags or cans, e.g. B. the organic spices from Lebensbaum or Herbaria. Because oxygen and light lead to faster oxidation of the flavors and active ingredients contained.
How to properly store spices at home
If you have a dark spice cupboard at home, you can decant your spices into jars once you get home and only take them out when you need them.
However, if you have an open spice rack or your spice jars are on your kitchen table or worktop or possibly the windowsill, then only choose light-protected containers that you label accordingly. So do not choose any containers with a viewing window. Although these are better than completely transparent containers, they are still not ideal.
Do not place your spices directly near the stove or on a shelf above the stove as it may get too warm and humid there. The spices should also not be placed directly above a heater. Heat and moisture also reduce the quality of your spices.
Use spices without sprinklers
Many spices are sold in containers with a sprinkler. Undoubtedly, this is very useful. These spices can also be used for raw food dishes. However, you should not use them to season food that is currently cooking on the stove. Because when the water vapor gets into the container, not only does the spice stick together, which makes further use difficult. It could also start to mold.
If you have spice with a sprinkling insert, it is better to sprinkle the spice in a small bowl and then sprinkle the spice directly from the bowl into the pot.
Spice jars without a sprinkler are better. You can take the required amount with a dry teaspoon and sprinkle it over the dish.
Spices for cooking
Dried kitchen herbs with rather firm leaves such as sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, or oregano can be cooked as well because then the aroma is released from their leathery leaves.
Spices such as bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, or whole caraway seeds even have to be cooked for a while, otherwise, you wouldn’t taste anything from them. The first two mentioned are usually removed from the dish before consumption.
Spices that should not be boiled
Kitchen herbs such as dill, parsley, basil, chives, coriander, lemon balm, or chervil are only added to the dishes at the very end. They should therefore not be cooked, otherwise, their aroma will be lost.
The same applies to chili, nutmeg, pepper, and paprika.
Use spices regularly
Use your spices regularly. Because they taste and work best the fresher you use them. However, the longer you have your spices standing around, the worse it is for their quality.
Better fewer spices than too many
It is better to buy fewer spices, but only those that you really like and use regularly. This way you avoid the above, that your spices are left for too long, eventually lose their flavor and effect and you have to throw them away.
Store aromatic herbs for no longer than 1 year
What applies to herbal and spice teas also applies to dried kitchen herbs: After 1 year, they should be used or replaced quickly, as they have then suffered a noticeable loss of aroma and active ingredients.
Herbs like oregano, dill, and basil also change color from green to tan over time. Therefore, the less green your herbs are over time, the faster you should consume them.
Older herbs are usually not bad and could e.g. B. can still be used in stews (then use a little more of it). Only for recipes in which one is dependent on the respective aroma, e.g. B. in dips, marinades, dressings, or even on pizza, we would no longer use them.
If you use herbs for healing purposes, you should definitely replace them after a year.
Spices: Shelf life varies
The shelf life of spices varies greatly and depends in particular on whether the spices are ground or whole.
Cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, peppercorns, or even whole caraway, coriander, or cumin seeds can be used for a good 2 years, especially if freshly ground just before use. Whole nutmegs even last up to 4 or 5 years.
Ground spices, on the other hand, often lose their aroma and effectiveness after just six months and should no longer be used after 1 to 1.5 years at the latest if they have already been opened.
Unopened they should have a longer shelf life. The manufacturers usually give a shelf life of a good 2 years. But one rarely buys spices in advance in order to store them unopened in the cupboard.
Unfortunately, you don’t notice immediately when spices need to be replaced, as they don’t spoil noticeably. Therefore, test the aroma and taste again and again.
However, spices can also be attacked by food moths. Therefore, also check whether you see clumps or web threads.
If you want to use spices therapeutically, e.g. B. turmeric, ginger, oregano, or whatever, then pay attention to fresh quality and stop using the spices after 1 year.
Write the date on your condiments
It is best to write down the date (on which you bought or opened the respective spice) on the packaging or on a small piece of paper that you put in the tin. This is the best way to keep track of things.
Always grind spices fresh
If possible, always grind your spices very fresh just before using them in quantities that you will use up immediately. You can either use an electric coffee and spice grinder or fill the spices in glass containers with an integrated grinder. However, you must keep the latter in a dark place in the closet.
Of course, you could also use the spices for e.g. B. grind a week in stock. Then fill them into your usual light and air-proof containers immediately after grinding. However, fresh grinding of only small quantities for immediate consumption is optimal.