In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can you use expired spices?”. We will also discuss how long spices last. Moreover, we will also talk about the ways to reuse expired spices and how we can know whether the spices are expired or not.
Can you use expired spices?
Yes, you can use the expired spices as long as they give you natural flavor and color. They do expire after some time but they don’t expire in a way that their consumption makes you sick or ill. However, they lose their flavors and aroma as they get past their expiry date.
Over a period of time spices lose flavor potency due to which their consumption and uses don’t really matter beyond their expiry date. Although spices have a long shelf life they are typically best to use before the labeled expiry date in the package.
Once spices are exposed to oxygen, oxidation begins, degrading their natural flavor and aroma. With the loss of natural flavor and aroma, it is best not to use them in food, however they can be used for various other purposes such as fungicide, color, and many more activities.
How long do spices last?
In general, all spices can last fresh and can be used for about 2-3 years. Until natural flavor, aroma and color can be obtained they can be easily used and after they start losing these natural qualities they can be expected to expire.
Some of the general guidelines for the shelf life of various spices are
- Whole spices: 3-4 years
- Spice blends: 2 years
- Dried leafy herbs: 1-3 years
- Seeds: 4 years
- Fresh spices: 1 week
However proper maintenance of temperature and storage can make spices last longer than their usual shelf life.
One of the major causes of losing the natural scent and flavor of spices is continuous and direct contact with oxygen, therefore air tightening a container can be done to prolong shelf life. Similarly, keeping the temperature below 70°C and the humidity low is vital for preserving spices.
What are the ways to use expired spices?
Although spices have a long shelf life, they expire eventually. After losing the natural strength of flavor, color and aroma they can’t be used in food but they can be reused in other various activities before disposing of.
With strong flavor and smell, they have an anti-fungal character that can be used as a fungicide on seedlings and houseplants. For instance, cinnamon can be used as a fungicide.
Spices can be used for the preparation of homemade soap which is good for health. For example, ground cloves and pepper’s rough texture can serve as a mild exfoliant.
Some of the spices such as turmeric powder, chili powder, safforine, and paprika have a strong color texture which can be used as a natural color replacement for DIY. you can find some DIY spice paint ideas here.
How to know whether the spices are expired or not?
Although spices have a long shelf life, they expire ultimately after some time. Some of the ways to know whether the spices are expired or not are:
By checking the color
Almost every spice is bright in its natural condition and when they change color and become dull they don’t provide natural flavor which can be concluded as expired.
By checking the smell
Every spice has a different and strong fragrance in its natural condition and when they expire the natural qualities of these spices reduce and provide less flavor. So by comparing or smelling spices it can be known whether either spice is expired or not.
By checking the texture
Checking the moisture content of spices can help to distinguish expired spices. Moisture creates noticeable textural changes that make the particles clump together and speed up the loss of essential oils.
By checking the label
All processed spices available in the market have their own shelf life labeled in the package so checking the label can be an easy way to estimate the spice quality.
In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Can you use expired spices”. We have also discussed how long spices last. Moreover, we also talked about the ways to reuse expired spices and how we can know whether the spices are expired or not.