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10 Spice and Herb Storage Tips

You just bought new spices and herbs for your recipes. Now you need to know how to store them to prolong their freshness.

Suggested storage and usage tips:

1. Whole spices and herbs maintain their freshness longer than ground ones.

2. Keep spices and herbs away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Avoid storing spices and herbs over the stove or near a window.

3. Spices and herbs will keep for a long time if they are stored in airtight bottles. The shelf life of properly stored spices and herbs is approximately 4 years for whole spices, 2-3 years for ground spices and 1-3 years for leafy herbs, depending on the herb.

4. They don't spoil, but spices and herbs do lose their strength. Old and weak seasonings will not deliver the taste that they should.

5. There are three checks to use when verifying freshness: look, smell, and taste.

A visual check for color fading is a good indicator of flavor loss. Taste and smell your spices and herbs: if they don't taste or smell like much, they need to be replaced.

6. Don't sprinkle spices and herbs directly from the bottle over a steaming pot. Steam introduced into the bottle will hasten the loss of flavor and aroma. Steam will also result in caking of contents.

7. Make sure your measuring spoon is completely dry when you dip it into the bottle. Moisture introduced into the bottle will also result in caking and flavor loss.

8. Members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, will retain their color and remain fresher when stored in the refrigerator.

9. Replace bottle lids tightly immediately after use.

10. An inexpensive coffee grinder makes a great spice grinder for whole seeds, cloves, and cinnamon sticks--and it's faster than a mortar and pestle. Fresh-ground spices are especially pungent and flavorful.

Oct. 5, 2009 6:40 am
i tried drying herbs before..they just turned brown...what is the best way to dry herbs and still maintain their colour and taste??
Nov. 21, 2009 7:28 pm
You can dry a lot of herbs simply by hanging them upside down for a while. I did that this summer with dill, oregano, rosemary, and sage, just hanging them from my cabinet knobs with string tied around the stems. Much better flavor from fresh dried herbs, good luck!
Jan. 14, 2010 9:07 am
is there a trick to preserve fresh herbs without drying them out? It seems they only last 2 or 3 days in the fridge sealed in zipped bags. Basil seems to be the worst and it is my favorite. Also how do you cut basil without bruising the ends. Tried my best knife different way, tried scissors. Just cant get them to be beautiful?
Jan. 19, 2010 6:15 am
Try drying in oven on cookie sheet for about 10 or 15 minutes,crumble in hands and store in dry container or ziploc bag.Also chop fresh and can be frozen in ziploc bag/ Hope this helps. Let me know.
Jan. 19, 2010 6:17 am
Hi, is is me again. Freeze chopped onions,peppers,cooked carrots also.
Feb. 25, 2010 7:12 am
For storing fresh herbs, quickly rinse-shake well-loosely wrap in dry paper towel, then place in ziploc bag and store in vegie bin in fridge.
Mar. 15, 2010 5:41 pm
I've had luck with 2 different processes. Try separating the leaves (basil, parsley, etc) and spreading out on a cookie sheet and flash freezing in the freezer. Place in air tight freezer bags, and chop, while still frozen, works wonderfully. I've also done the same with the leaves but simple laid them out on paper towel and allowed them to air dry over 2-3 days. Gently crumble them and store them in glass jars.
Apr. 8, 2010 11:17 pm
I have an old has only one tray left but I use it for drying herbs...I put some linen on the tray to catch any stray leaves and do one herb at at three days I have dried herbs that can then be put in jars with an oxygen tablet to keep them fresh.
mushroom lady 
Apr. 24, 2010 6:30 am
Great tips and will try some in the coming season; however, I have given up on basil and just make a ton of pesto. I freeze in ice cube trays, then seal in bags. Walnuts are cheap and good alternative to pine nuts.
May 10, 2010 5:31 pm
I take fresh herbs...chop them and place in ice trays...then fill the remaining space in the cubes with water and freeze. Once frozen, you can pop them out and store into baggies and reuse the tray for another herb.
May 25, 2010 1:07 pm
Keep you dry rosmary stems to use as shiskabob skewers!
Laverne Smith 
Jul. 21, 2010 8:32 am
Thank you for the advise, it was very helpful.
Aug. 5, 2010 7:28 pm
is there a herb chart available to tell us what herbs go best with meat, fish, vegetable, soups etc?
Sep. 1, 2010 9:07 am
There's an herb chart on the inside front and back cover of the 1972 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Maybe it's still in whatever new version is on the market. I hope so! :)
Sep. 4, 2010 3:23 am
Place basil in food processor with a tspn of olive oil and freeze in small ziploc bag. Then use as needed.
Sep. 26, 2010 12:54 pm
I have had excellent success with drying basil leaves and crumbling. Place leaves on a microwave plate so none of the leaves are touching. Microwave +/- 3 minutes until leaves are crispy and can be crumbled but are still green. Make sure the stems have been removed and place them in a food processor or mini-grinder and pulse until they reach your desired size. I save empty spice jars, fill them with basil and relabel. I have fresh dried basil year-round.
Dec. 16, 2010 12:28 am
I don't dry or freeze basil. I keep 3 or 4 small pots in the window with the herbs that i use most. they grow well and make my house look and smell great!! It's a good way to beat the winter blues too.
hotelie Supporting Member (Click to learn more about Supporting Membership)
Feb. 4, 2011 6:22 am
Fresh rosemary....put sprigs in a sealable plastic bag and stick in the freezer. Will last for months and be as good as fresh.....
Feb. 16, 2011 7:04 am
Can you freeze fresh garlic cloves?
Feb. 23, 2011 9:24 am
Does anyone know how many carbs are in a 4 oz. glass of wine?
Feb. 23, 2011 12:09 pm
Dry white wine is 10 calories an ounce.
Apr. 10, 2011 10:29 pm A great herb chart.......
May 6, 2011 5:57 am
I dry my herbs in a dehydrater and then pulse them in my bullet. Then they look just like the herbs you buy in the store only they keep their color and smell fresher. I dry basil, dill, oragano, mint, thyme and spinach.
Sep. 14, 2011 4:59 am
I bought fresh rosemary for a recipe,and I keep it in my frig, what can I do to keep it fresh?
Nov. 27, 2011 2:12 am
I have lots of fresh rosemary. I bring some in and remove lower needles and put in glass of water. In about a week they will start growing roots. It will grow and grow those roots and stay nice for a long timer. Handy to have when cooking.
Feb. 24, 2012 12:56 pm
There is a Wonderful Herb/Seasoning Sustitute Chart at

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