Frugal Ideas – Spice Expiration Dates

Write the expiration date on the front label of your spice bottles. Keep a set of recipes that make heavy use of your spices handy (crock pots are great for this). One month out from the expiration date, use the recipes to clean out the last of your soon-to-expire spices.

Estimated savings: $2.00 – $7.00/month. (It really depends on how fast you use your spices. Fresher spice means you need less to season the food.)

You can get information about shelf life and expiration dates from these sites:
www.spiceadvice.com/faq_index.html
www.mccormick.com/Spices101/HowOldSpices.aspx

4 Responses to “Frugal Ideas – Spice Expiration Dates”

  1. Franadora says:

    Of interest – the current issue of Cooks Illustrated actually indicates yearly not 6 month replacement of spices. Herbs, on the other hand, can often be grown fresh (unless like me you have a brown thumb). Oregano/marjoram, basil, French tarragon (avoid Russian tarragon), thyme and perhaps rosemary are often home grown, along with chives and parsley. [I think even I can grow those two!]

    While living in Milwaukee I loved to visit The Spice House in downtown. The store smells wonderful; rows and rows of glass jars to select and have weighed as you can buy as little or as much as you want. They also have a mail order business online: http://www.thespicehouse.com/
    The Spice House is still run by members of the originating Penzey family, but one of the sons branched out a few years ago to create Penzeys http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html . And now has stores all over the country…

    I tend to stay with the original – even seeking out the little store that the Mama (Ruth Penzey) was still running in western Milwaukee.

  2. PookahBoss says:

    Franadora:
    Those are some very good suggestions. Do you have any links or contact information for those merchants that you might be willing to share?

    Thanks!
    — PookahBoss

  3. Franadora says:

    Actually, most spices are also seasonable. I would buy in 6 month increments – but always in bulk from a spice merchant who buys direct (yes, I know several in Milwaukee, but there are others around the country). You don’t know how long the spices have been in the warehouse on the way to the grocery. Even with shipping costs, the spice merchant is often much less expensive than the bottles on the grocers shelf.

    Bulk means less weight – reuse the bottles. And DO keep them in glass – in plastic, spices lose flavor (that’s why you’re buying them). My final arbiter on keep/throw is color and taste.

  4. Romilly says:

    Additional suggestion on the expiration thing. Spices don’t last forever, much as my mother would have liked them to. :) Buy them in the bulk area of your specialty grocer or spice shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one of these nifty beasties. Only buy as much as you can use in a month. Buying big tubs of spices, if you don’ t use them up, is more wasteful than buying small amounts.

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