Storing Flavorful Spices

Being one who wants to be prepared for any sort of emergency I store up on a variety of foods. Since I am a person who has every intention of having the same semi-luxuries which I currently enjoy during emergency situations I have a vast array of spices stored up. Herbs and spices contain essential oils which provide them with certain aromatic characteristics. It is these traits which are responsible for the smells and tastes of the spices and are the master ingredient which suggests the individual flavor of the product. When purchasing herbs or spices in your local grocery store you are presented with a choice of either the ground versions or the whole form.

As with coffee beans the whole herbs or spices tend to last considerably longer than their ground up cousins. A good many shoppers prefer to purchase their herbs and spices in the whole form and grind them as the need arises. It is a simple procedure to crush your whole herbs or spices with a mortar and pestle or as in my case a small coffee grinder.

To provide the best taste and flavor your herbs and spices must be the freshest they can be. As a cook and preparer of emergency foods it will be to your advantage to inspect your ground spices annually to ensure they are fresh. If they have lost their aroma than the seasoning has outlived its shelf life and should be replaced.

Herbs and spices should be stored in air-tight containers in a dark, cool, dry location. I have found that a normal spice type screw-cap container is usually much better than the fancy flip-top styles. These types are much simpler to provide a storage location free of air and they can be resealed when necessary.

There are certain rules which one should follow to ensure that the spices they use are fresh tasting and provide the most flavor when used.

1. Keep all spices and herb away from heat. High temperatures are guaranteed to destroy good spices. Never place them in locations which generate heat such as atop the dishwasher or your kitchen refrigerator. Although it may be a convenient feature it goes without saying that they should never be stored above the range. Heat, air, and excessive light cause the aromatic oils in the herbs and spices to evaporate which in turn destroys the pleasant flavor we so desire.

2. always store your products far from sources of moisture as a damp environment will cause the spices to cake up and result in a loss of quality. As mentioned they should be stored in a tightly sealed jars and removed with a clean, dry spoons as needed. This caking action may present somewhat of a problem to you in the event that you reside in a high humidity area.

3. Store your spices in cool place away from and direct light. Never store them on a window ledge or place them in the sunlight. Spice racks may present a pleasing appearance in your kitchen as they decorate your walls or counter tops however they are not the best methods for storing your spices. Certain spices must be store in specific manners in order to enhance and promote their natural flavor. Typical of those are cayenne pepper, chili powder, or paprika which should be kept in the refrigerator to retain their color and flavor at peak level.

Shelf Life’s tend to vary but as a general rule whole spices will last you anywhere from 2 to 5 years while the ground versions range from 6 months to several years. Your leafy herbs have a useable life span of 3 months to as much as 2 years. Lastly unless prepared for longer storage most dehydrated vegetables will last a mere 6 months. Always note the date of purchase on your herbs and spices to assist you in rotating them as necessary.

Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish

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