Using herbs and spices can add aroma, color, and flavor to your food. They usually come in fresh and dried forms that have a strong flavor. Spices are always dried and the taste can vary between hot, sweet, or spicy. To know how to store dried herbs and spices, follow the guidelines:
Store the herbs in an airtight black-colored or dark container so that there’s less exposure to the oxygen that can spoil them. Do not use plastic containers as they may leach chemicals into your herbs; instead, use glass bottles. Keep these jars away from sunlight and keep them in a dark and dry place. Sunlight can affect the flavor of the herbs.
Dried herbs go through different processes of cleaning, drying, and heating. As a result, they lose some part of the strong flavor and aroma when you are about to use them. You don’t want to lose out on flavors anymore; therefore, store them properly.
Tips For Storing Dried Herbs
Whole herbs last longer
Keep in mind that herbs in their whole form last longer. If you can store the whole herb and then just grind as needed, you can prolong their freshness and make a stronger product. A good rule of thumb is to keep them in the largest form possible. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, and some herbs are easier to store in the whole form than others like the roots, seeds, or whole flower buds.
Make sure your herbs are completely dry
When storing dried herbs, it’s necessary to make sure that they are totally dry. This is only applicable if you are harvesting fresh herbs from your backyard and then dry them for later use. Make sure that there is completely no moisture left when they are finished drying. A good way to check is to rub a bit between your fingers, the herb should crumble easily and almost crispy to the touch. One great tip to dry your herbs is using a homemade drying screen, using a dehydrator, or simply hanging them upside down.
Store in airtight containers
Oxygen can degrade herbs over time, so storing your dried herbs in airtight containers is the best solution. You can also use glass jars or metal tins with screw top lids. Do not use plastic if possible, as it may leach chemicals into your herbs.
Keep out of direct sunlight
Even though the rays of sunlight hitting your jars of herbs is stunning, they could damage the potency of the herbs. Hence, it’s best to store them out of direct sunlight. That’s why using dark-colored glass jars is recommended for blocking all potential light. Keep the container in a closed cabinet or make a curtain to cover them for added protection.
Keep in a cool and dry location
If you want your herbs to stay cool and dry for maximum shelf life. Keep them away from a hot stove or in a steamy bathroom. You may store them in a root cellar or your bedroom.
Label harvest on the purchase date
Keep track of how old your herbs are necessary. Whenever you put a new herb on the shelf, make sure to label it, what it is and when it was harvested or purchased.
Here is some important information to note when labeling:
- Botanical name
- Harvest date (if known)
- Purchase date (if applicable)
- Discard date
Take note that different herbs have different shelf lives. It has anywhere from 1 to 3 years, depending on the specific herb. Properly dried and stored herbs do not stale right away. However, over time they will become less potent and should be replaced.
Getting the highest quality herbs is something you should aim for. Besides, knowing what is best for your herbs and how to store them is a good feeling to have. Label your containers with names and dates. Also, you can get into a system of replenishing.
Make your herbal apothecary your space and treat it like a special place. This helps in keeping your dried herbs last for quite a while. If you follow these tips for storing dried herbs, you will be guaranteed the freshest herbs every time you need them.
How To Dry And Store Fresh Herbs?
The herbs from your garden are best used when fresh, but you can always save them for later use. Dried herbs harvested from your garden provide the next best thing to fresh. To dry fresh herbs, air drying is the easiest and least expensive way to dry fresh herbs; however, this slow drying process helps in retaining the essential oils of the herbs, which helps to maintain their flavor profile.
The best herbs for drying
Air drying works best with herbs that do not have a high moisture content, such as bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, summer savory, and thyme. To retain the flavor of these herbs, you can either do the following things: allow them to dry naturally or use a food dehydrator.
You may also use a microwave or an oven set on low, but they cook the herbs to a degree, removing the oil content and flavor. Use these appliances as your final resort.
If you want to preserve herbs with succulent leaves or those with high moisture content, such as basil, chives, mint, and tarragon, you can dry them with a dehydrator. However, to get the best result, consider freezing them. It’s simple to do and even quicker than drying.
When to Harvest Your Herbs for Drying
When you’re ready to make a final trimming of your herbs for the season, keep in mind the following pointers.
Harvest the herbs before they flower
If you’ve been harvesting branches all season, most probably your plants never get a chance to flower. By late summer, even the herbs that have not yet flowered will begin to decline due to early winter frost. This is a good time to begin harvesting and drying your herbs.
Cut branches in mid-morning.
Allow the morning dew to dry from the leaves. However, collect the herbs before the plants are wilting in the afternoon.
Do not cut the entire plant, unless you plan on replacing it.
Do not cut back more than two-thirds or remove more than one-third of a plant’s branches at a single time.
How To Dry Fresh Herbs?
Gather your clippings and put them in a paper bag.
Check-in after two weeks
Monitor for about two weeks to see how things are going on. Keep an eye on it every week until your herbs are dry enough to crumble and ready for storage.
Get rid of dry or diseased leaves
Remove any dry or diseased leaves from the cut herbs. If you spot yellow leaves and leaves with a disease, do not dry them. Their flavor has diminished by the stress of the season.
Shake the branches
Shake the branches gently to eliminate any insects. There are always hitchhikers. Since you are not washing the stems thoroughly, get rid of as many insects as you can right now.
Ensure the herbs are completely dry
If you’ve picked your herbs while the plants are dry, simply shake off any excess soil. Rinse them with cool water if necessary and pat dry with paper towels.
You can hang or lay the herb branches out where they can access plenty of air circulation so they can dry out quickly. Wet herbs are at high risk of mold and rot.
Trim down the lower leaves
Cut the lower leaves along the bottom inch. Nonetheless, you can still use these leaves fresh or dry them separately.
Group the stems together
Bundle around four to six stems together and tie them as a bunch. You can either use a string or a rubber band for tying. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so make sure to check periodically that the bundle is not slipping from the rubber band.
If you are trying to dry herbs that have a high moisture content, create small bundles so they can get enough airflow between the branches and do not rot.
Create some holes in the bag
Cut holes in a paper bag, then label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
Put the herb upside down
Place the herb bundle upside down into the paper bag. You may also place the loose leaves you removed from the bottom inch of the stems.
Secure the bag
Secure the bag by gathering the end around the bundle and close it tightly. Make sure not to fill the inside of the bag, so that the herbs are not crowded.
Hang the bag upside down
In a warm, well-ventilated room, hang the bag upside down.
How To Store Herbs?
Once you have completed the drying process. Here are the following steps:
Store the herbs in airtight containers
Keep your dried herbs in airtight containers. You can also use canning jars and zippered plastic bags. Your herbs can retain more flavor if you store the leaves whole and crush them when you are about to use them.
Label and date containers
Put the name of the herbs and write the date.
Remove any moldy herbs
Discard any dried herbs that display even the slightest sign of mold. It will only spread on the container.
Keep the containers in a cool, dry spot
Place containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. There are now amber-colored canning jars that are designed to block sunlight.
Tips for using dried herbs
You can begin using your herbs once the drying and storage process is complete:
- If you want to use your herbs in cooking, pull out a stem and crumble the leaves into the pot. You should be able to loosen the leaves by running your hand down the stem.
- Use about 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried leaves in place of 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your herbs start to lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.
How Long Can Dried Herbs And Spices Be Stored?
Do spices go bad? This is a common question among cooks faced with at some point. After all, they are dry and they sit on the shelf, thinking that they should last forever.
Spices do not go sour in the same way that milk does, nor do they become moldy or rotten just like fresh produce does.
What does shelf life mean? For herbs and spices, it determines the length of time they are most delicious for cooking.
Generally, dried seasonings, herbs, and spices in jars can last for about 1-2 years. However, there are exceptions worth noting.
The Shelf Life of Spices
Here’s a rough guideline on the life of your seasonings:
- Indefinite: Vanilla extract, salt, and other extracts will fade in 2-3 years.
- Whole spices unground, such as peppercorns, whole allspice, caraway seeds, and more can last about 3-4 years
- Ground spices Cumin, ginger, paprika, and chili powder last for about 2-4 years
- Ground and whole leafy herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and most seasoning blends: about 1-3 years
All of us have a few jars that have been sitting in the pantry for many years. And it’s okay to let these spices go.
To cook delicious foods starts with great ingredients. If you find delight cooking with your old spices, you’ll find even more bliss when they are replaced with new jars, full of fresher flavor.
Best Containers To Store Herbs And Spices
When storing spices, here are your biggest enemies:
What comes to your mind? Can you think of someplace that is airtight, dark, cool, and dry? Well, read on to learn more.
The Best Kitchen Locations
- Freezer. Ground spices help in retaining their condition and quality when stored in an airtight container in the freezer.You can store them for Up to six months, but some keep them for up to a year.
- Inside a Cabinet Door. This space-saving idea is great for small kitchens.
- In a drawer. Very convenient, but drawers are mostly occupied with kitchen stuff.
- On a Pantry Shelf. This is where most mason jars full of spices and dried herbs are stored. It’s cool, dark, and free from heat sources.
- Open Storage. If spices are stored in tin cans, placing them in an open shelving or counter-top storage is fine, as long as it is far from direct heat.
The Best Storage Containers
- Tins. They are the best possible place for your spices and herbs. Most preferably tins without glass tops.
- Small Spice Jars. They are meant for spice storage and usually cheap.
- Carousel spice racks. These popular organizers are best kept inside a cupboard, away from direct sunlight.
- Mason Jars. Perhaps the most eco-friendly and common storage. You can see them hanging around, waiting to be repurposed. They are perfect for herbs and spices.
Estimated Price: $40
Materials: Clear plastic
This air-tight container has been designed to seal in freshness while making access and food prep a breeze. You can store your favorite food safely in these efficient containers. It comes with 9 same size containers. You won’t have to worry about jamming your edibles into smaller containers. It has a product dimension of 3.25 inch (height) X 3.75 inch (Width) X 3.75 inch (Length) (4.2 cups / 0.5 liters)
Aside from the container, included with your set are 9 Gray spoons to match 9 containers. This makes a great combo.
Not only are these good for dry foods, but our containers are great for holding liquids such as water, juice, soup, and more. They come with container corners that allow for easy pouring. If you are worried about spills, Shazo containers are designed to seal all liquids; thanks to the airtight technology.
These containers come with rings. Once the ring on the lid is pushed down, the silicone seal inside the lid will expand to seal the jar, creating complete airtightness. Pop the ring back up and it serves as a handle to lift the lid. This configuration provides maximum freshness and prolonged food storage. It features a stackable and modular design, saving you a ton of space in your pantry and cabinets for better kitchen organization. They are 100% Shatterproof.
They have a matte texture with a crisp clean uniform dye cut shape. The surface is not shiny or slippery and has a strong and durable design for an appealing look.
Estimated Price: $25
Materials: Heavy-duty glass
These Heavy-duty glass spice bottle jars are dishwasher-safe, extremely safe, BPA, and lead-free. Aside from the empty glass bottles, it includes silver metal caps to create an airtight seal and snap-on shaker caps. The inner lids allow you to choose either shaking or measuring with spoons.
They also feature exclusive sift and pour shaker lids matching metal airtight caps, meaning your herbs can stay fresher and longer. It also includes 50 reusable blank labels that give you the option of labeling the sides or the lid of the jars.
These mini jars have a variety of uses such as party favors, craft or office supplies, decorative projects, or homemade goodies. You can utilize the square glass jars for organizing drawers, seasoning, storing spices, salt, pepper, herbs, DIY projects, and more. These mini jars are versatile and have a variety of uses such as party favors, craft or office supplies, decorative projects, or homemade goodies.
If you are not satisfied with the glass spice jars set, the manufacturer offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Contact their customer support within 30 days for a hassle-free full refund. Enjoy these RISK-FREE glass jars today.