Get Your Pantry Ready Before the Baking Season Begins

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Fall is a great time to refresh your spice cabinet and toss out old spices as you prepare for holiday baking and entertaining.

Just as you would select the freshest fruits, veggies and meats, you want to be sure you have the freshest spices and herbs to enhance the flavors of the meals you prepare.

To ensure your herbs and spices are adding the maximum flavor to your favorite dishes, there are three freshness standards you should follow:

  1. Aroma should be strong. If you rub or crush the spice in your hand, it should have a strong aroma if it’s still fresh.
  2. Taste should be potent. If the spice flavor is dull or muted, it will not add the best flavor to your foods.
  3. Color should be vibrant. If the color has faded, chances are the flavor has also faded.

If your spice or herb doesn’t meet these freshness standards, check the “best by” date on the bottle to see if it’s time to toss and replace.

Depending on the age of the spice or herb, the best by date is located in one of two spots on the bottle. Check the label to see if the best by date is printed on the label near the cap.  If there isn’t a date there, then check the bottom of the bottle for a best by date.

You can see how the McCormick Red Cap Spices have the “best by” date printed on the label near the red cap.

The McCormick Gourmet (green-cap) Spices have the “best by” dates printed on a black label on the bottle near the top.

Here’s a rough guideline on the life of those seasonings in your kitchen:

  • Indefinite: Vanilla extract, salt, and that’s about it. Other extracts will fade in 2-3 years.
  • Whole spices (not ground, such as peppercorns, whole allspice, caraway seeds, and more): 3-4 years
  • Ground spices (such as cumin, ginger, paprika and chili powder): 2-4 years
  • Ground and whole leafy herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary and most seasoning blends: 1-3 years

All of us have a few jars that have been sitting in the pantry for over a decade. It’s okay to let these spices go.

The 17 essential spices and herbs every kitchen should have:

There's a special at Safeway where you buy 2 Get 1 Free McCormick Spices Sale at Safeway:

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