Spices are the most important ingredients used in all cuisines. It is these little precious things that can turn a simple plain dish to an exquisite delicacy. Their freshness, flavours and exotic aromas can lift up the taste of a dish to an absolutely new level. Of course, they are not easily available everywhere and one has to pay a good amount in buying them. Hence, it is important to store them properly using air-tight containers, especially during a humid weather.
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As spices are dried plant products, they have a shelf life of only a few years. For example, seeds or barks can be stored up to 2 years, herbs and flowers for 1 year and ground roots for 2 to 3 years. Yet, with the passage of time, these herbs and spices tend to lose their colour and flavour to a certain extent, if not stored properly. They can be an easy target to insects, and if you don't want your money to get wasted, you must learn a few tips to store spices safely at proper places. Humid environment, in particular, affects the freshness of your spices, and, thus, it becomes a necessity to figure out ways to store these spices properly.
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1. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to store all the herbs and spices in a dry place. As mentioned earlier, a humid environment can absolutely ruin your spices, as it can act as a breeding ground for insects, ultimately spoiling them all.
2. Another important factor to consider is to keep the spices away from too much light. Light tends to oxidise the essential plant oils that carry the real essence of the spices. To keep the flavours locked within the spices, make sure to store them in a dark and dry place.
3. Use opaque jars instead of the transparent ones to further save the spices from the effects of too much light.
4. A common misconception among people is that keeping spices in a refrigerator can save them from getting spoiled. Contrary to this very popular belief, refrigeration can cause your spices to lose their flavour. However, storing them in a freezer, in an air-lock container, is a better way to store spices than keeping them in the refrigerator.
5. A great way to save your spices from insects and losing out on their flavours is to buy 'whole’ spices instead of the grounded ones. Grounded spices tend to lose their pungency much faster; and on the other hand, using freshly crushed spices in your dishes will elevate the taste to a greater extent.
6. A FoodSaver can be of real help here, if you wish to keep your spices fresh and away from insects. You can use it to vacuum seal the pint jars and then further store it in a dark and dry place. Vacuum sealing of the jars ensures not only the freshness but also hinders the growth of certain insects in the spices.
7. If you prefer buying these spices in bulk quantities, make sure not to use them directly from the big jar. Instead, keep a small portion of it in a smaller jar and the rest of it in a vacuum-sealed one. This can save you from the extra efforts of having to open and re-seal the spices again and again.