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Old 01-28-2016, 05:39 PM
Location: Alexandria, VA
10,950 posts, read 19,443,819 times
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Originally Posted by Missy2U View Post
I don't know if they "go bad", per se - I think it's more a matter of they lose their flavor/intensity. But I could be WAY wrong - happens all the time.
This is true - just see if they still have a taste/smell, sometimes you just have to rub them to "wake them up".

I did see on a visit to a friends' over Christmas that she had a bottle of Tabasco sitting out (family was visiting and one was adding it to some drink or other) - but it was BROWN!!! I mentioned that, she said she'd had for an unknown number of yrs. - I wouldn't have used it myself.
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:02 PM
Location: Texas Hill Country
9,202 posts, read 5,035,307 times
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Originally Posted by Podo944 View Post
Oh my goodness, I just cleaned out and sorted the shelf in my kitchen that had a zillion containers of various sizes and brands containing various spices! Lol!! It's like a time warp in there! A virtual history museum!
"But wait! What? Wasn't 2011 just a couple of of years ago?" (it was FIVE!) "Oh I remember 2009... that's the year we..." etc. etc.

I actually found an unopened bottle of hot sauce from 2004! Okay, now that's scary!

Needless to say 3/4 of that shelf is now empty!
Well, as far as time flies, yes, that's a common experience. I look back on things, say this show or that event and realize it was quite a bit ago.

Spices, though, may be immune to some extent. Like a year or two ago when I discovered the impact of Tarragon leaves......and it was from a brand my Mother bought. Doing a little calculation, it had to be bought before Spring of 2009 (when Mom got sick) and I posted my impression here on City-Data and I've only been here since July 2014, so the bottle was probably at least 6 years old. It was still good enough, then, to send me head over heels.

A thing or two or three to consider. While it is probably too much to consider that as they were back then is not as they are now, do remember the history of the spice trade and how long those things had to last in the days of primitive preservation. Secondly, can a spice go bad and if it did, what could be the effect? Finally, having bought a lot of dollar spices at Big Lots, I keep most of those in a box in the bottom of the pantry. It's what I set out on the table on camping trips, it is one of the first items to go in a bail out situation because spices, with their longevity, are a great thing to have around as a morale booster.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:11 PM
Location: Prosper
6,268 posts, read 12,357,052 times
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I sell spices for a living.

The vast majority of them do not go bad. That expiration date you see on them, usually 2 or 3 years, is put on there at the request of the company selling them to consumers. It has nothing to do with an actual expiration of the spice.

Spices can age, they can fade, but their potency doesn't really change. To use black pepper as an example, if you buy ground black pepper, it will always taste about the same, even 5-10 years later. It may become clumped up due to moisture in the air, but shaking the bottle will fix that easily. If you buy whole black pepper, that's even better. Spices taste best when freshly ground, and any spice you can buy whole will last for years and it will be ready to be ground when you are finally ready to use it.

Whole spices generally cost a bit more, but if you're concerned about having to throw your spices away, buy the whole spices and you'll never have to throw them out, and they'll always be as fresh as the day you bought them when you grind them to use them.

Salt is another one... It doesn't go bad, ever. We manufacture our own label of salt and do not put an expiration date on it. However, for the grocery store chains we sell to, they want us to add an expiration date, because consumers don't like not knowing when something goes bad or not. So we add the date just to appease them.

The only spices that go bad are things like minced garlic in water, (any spice in water, really) and some extracts.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:45 PM
Location: CO
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McKinney, thanks for that information! I think that's just what we needed to hear as I imagine there are many of us with "outdated" spices still using and enjoying them!
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:58 PM
Location: Lake Arrowhead, Waleska, GA
1,080 posts, read 757,194 times
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I couldn't help but smile when I saw this topic!

I was very close to my maternal grandmother. My parents built her a house next door to them in 2000 and I only lived a few miles away. So it was common that I'd visit her on the weekend.

She loved my "dressing" (stuffing, to folks outside of the South). One day when I was visiting in 2009, she mentioned that she would love to have some whenever I could find the time to make it. I decided to make it for her right then, even though I'd much rather cook in my own kitchen (without supervision)!

The most important ingredient in Cornbread Dressing (besides cornbread) is Rubbed Sage! The typical recipe for what I was making typically calls for about 2-tablespoons of Sage, but I use closer to three. As Like most cooks, I take a taste before putting it in to bake (and before mixing the raw eggs in, also) and I couldn't taste a hint of Sage. I added more...nothing. After what was at least 1/2-cup of Sage, I still couldn't taste it!

Then I looked at expiration date on the bottle- (this was in 2009)- it was 07/31/02! She moved into her house in 2000, so I decided to go ahead and date check all of her spices. What started as 40-50 bottles ended up as one lonely bottle of Cinnamon and it was only a few months shy of expiration.

For the next six years, until she passed away last year, she told EVERYONE how I threw all of her spices away! I replaced the ones that she actually used with fresh ones, but that didn't matter.....the story that everyone heard was how I cleaned out the cabinet and tossed it all in trash! I'm surprised that County Elder Services didn't open some sort of abuse investigation on me because she told anyone who would listen that I threw away every spice in her cabinet.
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:14 PM
Location: Wayne,NJ
1,308 posts, read 864,356 times
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I remember reading just recently how people "will do what they're told". For example, a shampoo executive got the bright idea in the directions to print: Lather, rinse, repeat. Sales almost doubled, certain things that say, "refrigerate after opening", often don't have to be, such as honey.
I think the same thing applies to spices.
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:34 PM
3,981 posts, read 5,604,557 times
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Originally Posted by convextech View Post
I didn't know spices could go bad. I have some spices that I bought 10 years ago that are still fine to use.
They really don't go bad, but they will lose potency over time. It's also a good idea to buy whole spice seeds or 'corns' and grind them as you use them. If you store them in a cool, dark place in air tight containers, they'll stay relatively fresh for a long, long time. I have some 3-4 year old peppercorns and cumin seeds that taste perfectly fine. If exposed to air for a long while, an oil heavy spice like coriander might also oxidize thereby producing a stale flavor. A good way to rotate stock is to use older spices for dry rubs.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:48 AM
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Whatever you do don't make old cake mix if it's been expired for a while. The baking soda will have lost it's effect and it won't rise and will be a gummy constituency. at least mine in a bundt pan was. Same with an old box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. Both those items should have expatriation dates as well as sell by dates.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by convextech View Post
Add some grains of rice to the jar and they absorb the moisture. I live in Georgia and that's what I do.
I've heard about that and tried it and some rice grains end up falling in thru the spice jar holes. Now what I do is just mix it with a butter knife every so often to make it powdery. Some fine powders like paprika and cinnamon do not cake up.
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:07 AM
Location: Upstate NY
32,157 posts, read 9,518,834 times
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Originally Posted by convextech View Post
I didn't know spices could go bad. I have some spices that I bought 10 years ago that are still fine to use.

I have a bottle of whole nutmeg balls--from 1976! I remember that because a coworker (from '76 lol) asked about them when we were sharing a recipe).

They're still aromatic and flavorful. And I'm only on my second ball.
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