You might be diligent about spring cleaning every year, but when was the last time you cleaned out your spice rack? Spices and herbs don’t spoil the same way produce or dairy does, but time does cause them to lose their potency and flavor.

To help you decide what to keep and what to toss, McCormick Spice posted some interesting information on Facebook.

According the Maryland-based spice maker, any spice label that says “Baltimore, MD” is way out of date. The company hasn’t produced spices there for at least 25 years.

McCormick was founded in 1889 in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, but moved it’s production plant to Hunt Valley, Maryland about a quarter century ago.

McCormick recommends replacing their ground spices, like nutmeg, cinnamon or curry, every two or three years, and their whole spices, like cloves, every three to four years. Seeds such as anise have a shelf life of about four years with poppy and sesame seeds being exceptions. Throw those away after two years. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t remember the last time you used a spice, it’s probably time for a toss.

Extracts like mint and orange are good for about four years, but pure vanilla extract is actually good forever due to its high alcohol content.

Another tip for decoded the age of your spices — aside from black pepper, McCormick hasn’t packaged any of their herbs or spices in those iconic rectangular tins for more tan 25 years, as well. So any spices still stored in tins belong more in an antique shop than in your next recipe.

Another factor into the longevity of your spices is how you have stored them. If you’ve kept them in a cool, dark area such as a kitchen cupboard, they’ll stay fresh for longer. But if you’ve stored them above your stove, you’ve cut their time short. The heat quickens their breakdown, and you might not reach that two or three year mark.

Now go ahead and confidently clean out that spice rack!

(h/t Country Living)


Also see, Carrot cake pancakes are perfect for brunch.


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.