Most of my dried herbs and spices have no expiration date on the shaker, but I realize Ive had some of them for years! How long is it safe to keep them and use them in food preparation?

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Most of my dried herbs and spices have no expiration date on the shaker, but I realize Ive had some of them for years! How long is it safe to keep them and use them in food preparation?

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Whole spices will keep the longest, because they have not been cracked or ground, exposing the volatile compounds which make up their flavor to the air. They can last up to four years in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, and well keep even better in the dark. Extremely strong spices such as whole cloves, cinnamon, and pepper may last even longer. You can tell that whole spices are too old to use when they have lost their aroma. Ground spices have a shorter shelf life, usually between two and three years. They should also be stored in a cool, dry place in airtight containers. To determine whether or not ground spices are still usable, gently shake the container with the cap on. Remove the cap after a moment and smell the container, to see if the rich smell of the spice is still present. If ground spices have declined in quality, you can use more of them in a recipe, with care, or toast them to refresh the flavor. To toast ground spices, use a cast iron skillet or a heavy pot o

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