How Fresh Are My Spices

How fresh are my spices

Have you ever wondered just how fresh those spices sitting in your cupboard are?

If you purchase your spices whole, they will keep their punch for years. Yet pre-ground spices will lose their flavor in a fraction of the time.

With Dizzy Pig seasonings, we have a “Best if Used By Date” on our bottles. It’s not a magical date, just an estimate for when the blend has lost enough flavor compounds to be flat or off balance.

If the bottle has not been opened by the “Best if Used By Date”, and has been kept out of the heat and light, it should still be flavorful.

If your jar has been opened a year or more, then it is probably time for a fresh jar.

Spice Trivia

In general terms, herbs lose their flavor faster than spices that are seeds. The flavor of basil is especially short-lived. But oregano, savory, thyme and rosemary hold on a little longer. Cumin and cinnamon tends to hold its flavor, even when ground, for long periods.

Oftentimes, spices will lose some of their flavor notes, but not others. For example, after a couple of years, pre-ground black pepper still tastes good, but the flavor is much rounder and earthier with less bite. Fresh black pepper actually has several distinct sharp, almost citrus-like flavor compounds that disappear with time.

Other spices don’t handle the passing of time nearly as well as black pepper, and will develop off flavors.

How Long is the Shelf Life?

This is the question that we get asked often. There is no simple answer. It really depends on where your jar of rub is stored, and what conditions it is exposed to.

Air, heat and light all play a role in speeding up flavor loss. The rubs won’t go “bad” unless they get wet, but the flavors will change over time.

Some general guidelines are as follows:

  • Stored in a cool dark place, your jar of Dizzy Pig should still have some punch after the “Best if Used By Date”.
  • Stored in a warm bright spot or not capped tightly, they’ll last a year or less after opening.
  • Vacuum sealed and frozen, our rubs are good for well over 2 years.

In general, for the freshest flavor, Dizzy Pig rubs and seasonings should be used within 6 months of opening.

How Old is Too Old?

How can you determine whether to use the spices, or throw them out? Put them through some tests:

  • Look – is the color pale or rich?
    If the color has faded, then so has its flavor.
  • Smell – open up the bottle and give it a sniff. Does it smell flat?
    If there’s no zing left, then it is probably devoid of essential oils, and should be tossed.
  • Taste – if it’s still fresh, it will be well balanced and your taste buds should be stimulated on many levels.
    Or does it taste a little blah? It helps if you remember how fresh and aromatic the rubs were when you bought them, then try and compare in your mind.

Remember, we start off as fresh as it gets!

If your rubs are over 2 years old, you are missing out on the bright balanced flavors we work so hard on. Your Dizzy Dust might not taste like Dizzy Dust any more. Fortunately, we have a fresh batch mixed up and ready to ship to your door.

So what’s the answer?

If it smells and tastes fresh, and you can remember how it smelled when you opened it, then use it.

But when in doubt, throw it out. If you are going to put the money and effort into cooking great food for your family and friends, you may as well make sure you are using fresh spices!

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