New Year, New Pantry




If you’ve already cheated on your diet and broken your pact to go to the gym each morning, don’t fret. I have a resolution you can actually stick to. Here’s a perfect excuse to take a good look at your pantry and ditch any “bad” foods—whether they’ve gone bad, or they’re bad for you. All you need is a few hours, a garbage can, and a trip to the store.

Spices: They don’t last forever
Spices don’t go bad, per se, but they will let you down in the flavor department. And really, do you remember when you bought that curry powder or five-spice blend? According to McCormick, the spice people, here’s when to ditch that bottle. And if you still have tins with spices in them, they’re well past their prime.

Spice/Herb Shelf Life
Ground spices 2-3 years
Whole spices 3-4 years
Seasoning blends 1-2 years
Dried herbs (bay leaves, parsley, basil) 1-3 years
Extracts (almond, rum, etc.; real vanilla extract lasts forever) 4 years

Newer spices now have expiration dates printed on them, so read the fine print, and if your bottles are past date, or if you remember buying them for a dinner party two houses ago, it’s time to replace them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Next to or above the stove may seem like the perfect place to store your spices, but it exposes them to heat, which will make them age faster. Store your spices with the caps on at room temperature, away from windows, heat, and moisture.
  • If the color has faded, it’s time to throw out the spice. Spices should be vibrant in color.
  • Paprika, chili powder, and chili flakes can be stored in the fridge to keep them fresher longer.

Next: Oil and vinegar

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