Check your herbs and spices before use, it may be passed the ‘use-by’ date

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:21 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Herbs and spices play a big role in our holiday meals, and if it’s passed the use-by date, it may not taste as you desire.

The biggest signs not to use a certain seasoning lingering in the spice cabinet is pungent smells, lack of desired color, or clumping.

“Clumping can be a sign of a couple of things, it can be a sign of age, or it could just be a sign that it absorbed moisture so there’s a breach in the seal of the package most likely, or it could even be a sign of insect invasion,” explained Samantha Kennedy, a family and consumer sciences agent with UF IFAS.

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Kennedy told TV20 the best way to ensure freshness over time is storing pre-ground dried herbs and spices correctly.

“You want to keep them in a cool, dry, dark place, so a pantry or a cabinet with a closed door. You don’t want to store them where it’s really humid, you don’t want to store them in direct sunlight. You can store them in the freezer to last longer but you don’t want to store them in the refrigerator because of the moisture can cause them to clump,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy and the USDA recommend using seasonings within 6-12 months after purchase.

“Keeping in mind that once you open it, six months is the recommendation. That’s why we don’t recommend people buy huge bulk bottles of it unless they use it a lot. It might be cheaper per ounce to buy a big bottle but if you’re not going to use it within six months to a year even, it’s really not worth it because then it really starts to lose its flavor,” Kennedy explained.

Kennedy recommends examining and smelling spices and herbs in your cabinet to gauge freshness. She strongly advises against taste tests, as it could be harmful or unreliable.

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