Storing Your Spices In Plastic Containers Will Ruin Their Shelf Life

If you've ever visited the spice aisle in the grocery store, you might have been put off by the high cost of spices. These finely ground ingredients can run you a pretty penny, depending on the type of spice. For that reason, you'll want to make sure you're doing everything you can to prolong a spice's shelf life. After all, you don't want to purchase them more often than you need to.

Spices generally last anywhere from six months to five years, with a number of factors contributing to that shelf life. And one of the biggest factors is how they're stored. 

If you want to keep your spices flavorful for as long as possible, make sure you aren't storing them in clear, plastic containers. Spices are delicate and need to be protected from heat and light, both of which will affect them negatively if you go this storage route.

Don't store spices in plastic containers

Spices have very particular storage preferences, and if you don't abide by these, you could be wasting money by regularly replacing them. Elements such as heat, light, and humidity all have to be limited for spices to thrive. 

If you store spices at too high a temperature, their natural oils can evaporate, rendering them useless in terms of flavor. The color of spice makes a difference in flavor, too. To prevent loss of color, spices should be subject to very minimal light. Plus, spices are dried, and they need to stay that way. If you store spices in an environment that's too humid, it could cause unwanted moisture absorption, which can damage their texture.

To best protect spices, never store them in plastic containers. Clear plastic allows all of the light in and absorbs heat with ease, setting your spices up for disaster.

How to store spices properly

Ditch the plastic and opt for a metal or glass container instead; this will prevent the elements from attacking your spices. Opt for amber-colored glass rather than clear, as this will help prevent any light damage. Keeping your jars in the pantry ensures limited light exposure as well.

As for the storage environment, low humidity is important, but so is temperature; your spices should be stored at a temperature no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

With that said, you can usually tell if spices are no longer useful by smelling them. If the smell is faint, you'll likely want to swap them out for new ones. Ground spices only stay at their freshest for about six months (whole herbs and roots tend to last several years longer), so you'll want to check their freshness around that time to make sure the spices haven't gone stale.