We’re all guilty – whether it’s intentional or not – of hanging on to those ancient spices and herbs in our cabinets. I know, because I’ve been guilty, too.
It happens with the best of intentions: you buy that huge bottle of nutmeg, or deign to try something exotic such as shichimi togarashi – and after a few uses, it sits there in the darkness of your larder, waiting for another time that may never come.
Spices and dried herbs lose their punch pretty quickly if you don’t use them with frequency. Even if you do find yourself cranking that malabar pepper fairly often, it’s a good rule of thumb to replace any of your spices on an annual basis.
I can recall when my grandfather passed away in 1985, as we cleaned out his kitchen we found remnants of McCormick ground pepper and dusty tins of things like mace (who actually uses mace?) from the 1970s still withering away in the deep recesses of the cabinets – victims, no doubt, of the last time my then -late grandmother cooked. No spice should be allowed to linger in your larder for 10 years!
To wit: respect your cooking and do it a favor (as I did above, last weekend) – take 10-15 minutes to go through your spice collection and toss those antiquated old jars!