Sniff, Sniff: Have Your Spices Gone Bad?

Put down that spice and step away from the oven. This simple test will show you exactly which spices to keep and which ones need to go.
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When you think sniff test, you might not immediately think of spices. However, despite what you may have heard in the past, those once-fragrant spices do have a limited shelf life. Eating old spices certainly won’t hurt you, but it might hurt your credibility as the turkey goddess or the pumpkin pie master. After all, is a pumpkin pie with tasteless pumpkin pie spice really a pumpkin pie at all? We think not. But don’t worry! We’re here to help maintain your well-deserved title and make sure your Thanksgiving meal goes off without a hitch.

Pull-Down, Three-Tier Spice Rack

Pull-Down, Three-Tier Spice Rack

The most frustrating part of storing spices? Not finding what you need when you need it. This three-tier wire spice rack from The Container Store fits neatly inside a cabinet and pulls to eye-level when you're ready to cook. Mount it on the inside of a cabinet for effortless spice hunting.

Photo by: The Container Store

The Container Store

So how can you tell if your spices need to be replaced? Well, just open them up and take a sniff. Are they as fragrant as ever? Great—those can go back on the shelf. If they no longer smell or if the color has faded, it’s time to give them the boot.

Spice Storage Rail on Pantry Door

Spice Storage Rail on Pantry Door

Do you buy your spices in bulk? You might prefer hanging them for a whimsical display. Repurpose a small window treatment rod or use this Fintorp IKEA rail and Syrlig curtain clips to get the job done. Mount on the back of a pantry door to keep spices cool and dry.

Photo by: IKEA

IKEA

As a rule of thumb, most ground spices will last for about six months. Whole spices last much longer and are generally fine for up to five years. But to give them an extra kick, try toasting them before you grind them. That will enhance the flavor, making them better than ever! To keep spices fresher longer, be sure to store them in a dark place, since light can accelerate the expiration process.

Chic Spice Storage Jars

Chic Spice Storage Jars

Spices + empty baby food jars + magnets = fridge magic!

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Lauren Davison

Photo courtesy of Lauren Davison

With the holidays coming up, it’s a great time to check out all your spices before the cooking commences. It shouldn’t take too long, and with families to feed and mothers-in-law to impress, this is definitely a better-safe-than-sorry situation. No sub-par dishes for you! 

Creative Spice Storage

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Spices on Display

This magnetic spice display is functional and beautiful — ideal for cooks who like to keep their wares close at hand. Typed labels add to the modern, deconstructed appeal of this spice storage solution from IKEA. Recreate the look with Grundtal canisters and the Spontan magnetic board.

Photo By: IKEA

Hidden Spice Storage

Prefer to keep spices hidden? Take advantage of wall storage opportunities in your pantry with simple wire baskets that transform into mounted spice racks. Blogger Ashley of Domestic Imperfection came up with this clever idea so she could declutter spice storage from the back of her pantry door.

Clever Cabinet Space Saver

Speaking of hidden storage opportunities, this spice rack by SpiceStor mounts to the underside of a cabinet shelf and pulls out for easy access when cooking. Round spice canisters clip into place with no tools required for assembly. The rack is available in a variety of sizes to accommodate different spice containers.

DIY Test Tube Spice Rack

Show off your inner nerd in the kitchen with a test tube spice rack. These type of racks can be expensive to purchase, but are thrifty to make as seen on Adrianne Lentine's blog Dream Book Design.

Bag It Up

Do you buy your spices in bulk? You might prefer hanging them for a whimsical display. Repurpose a small window treatment rod or use this Fintorp IKEA rail and Syrlig curtain clips to get the job done. Mount on the back of a pantry door to keep spices cool and dry.

Repurposed Trays

Two vintage trays turned on their sides create an elegant roost for spices. This DIY tutorial from Blogger Nita Stacy of Mod Vintage Life proves that nearly any vessel can become a spice rack with a little imagination and effort.

Custom Spice Shelves

When drawers and cabinets won't do, seek space inside kitchen walls with a recessed spice shelf. Blogger Mandi Tremayne's custom spice shelf features embellished molding and simple spice jars for a classic, traditional look that elevates everyday spices to festive kitchen decor. Try this tutorial from HGTV.com to get a similar look.

Spice Up Your Fridge

Got refrigerator space to spare? Make your own magnetic spice jars by repurposing baby food jars. Sure, they only hold a few tablespoons each, but the idea is to keep your spices at the ready and, dare we say it, stylishly customized to your decor. See instructions on how to make your own from Blogger Lauren Davison of One Lucky Pickle.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Lauren Davison

Vintage Chic

Spices find an unexpected new home in vintage Coca-Cola bottle boxes painted a cheery teal. Blogger Jesse Dresbach of Nine Red stores his spices lid-first so the bright colors are on display. 

Spice Drawer Organizer

Shallow kitchen drawers are perfect for spice storage – except when jars roll against one another. Solve that problem with the Variera drawer insert from IKEA. The curved grooves of this removable tray make it easy to store spices and easy to clean should those spices ever spill.

Photo By: IKEA

Store in Bulk

You'll save money on spices if you buy bulk, but where to store those cups of clove and peppermint? Find an inexpensive open shelf unit that has space for glass canisters. Blogger Vanessa Alvarado upcycled this black shelf to create an in-home apothecary filled with herbs and dried goods.

Unexpected Spice Storage

This spice storage solution from Linly Designs feels like discovering a hidden treasure. Architectural corbels in this kitchen double as a functional pull-out rack for frequently used spices. 

Free Up Counter Space

For those who prefer clean counters (and don't have enough cabinet space for spices) try this ingenious solution from blogger Vanessa Alvarado. A towel rack hung on the wall below upper cabinets creates the perfect perch for spice jars. Create your own with the Bygel rail from IKEA.

Grab 'n' Go Spices

All spice jars as not created equal. Accommodate the various shapes and sizes with slanted, plastic drawer organizers. These inserts keep spices within easy reach and may be cut to any drawer size. Find a similar product solution to the one shown here at Rev-A-Shelf.

Photo By: Caren Baginski

Spice Hunting No More

The most frustrating part of storing spices? Not finding what you need when you need it. This three-tier wire spice rack from The Container Store fits neatly inside a cabinet and pulls to eye-level when you're ready to cook. Mount it on the inside of a cabinet for effortless spice hunting.

Photo By: The Container Store

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