The shelf life of a spice depends on the type of spice and the way it is stored. Overtime spices can loose their potency and not flavor your food the way you had intended. Storing them properly will help maintain the shelf life of your spices, making sure your food dishes continue to be fragrant and delicious.
Here are some tips to keeping your spices spiffy:
Make sure the lid is tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dark, dry place, away from sunlight and heat. Light, air, moisture, and heat can really affect the way your spices will perform. If storing spices on a rack on your kitchen wall, avoid clear bottles because there will be too much light exposure. For lightproof storage, use steel tins and canisters. Avoid keeping the spices above dishwashers and ovens because they will be exposed to too much heat and it will affect the flavor of the spice.
Spices in greater amounts can also be store in the freezer, even though it is best to keep them in a dark cupboard. Ground spices can last in the freezer up to 6 months, however whole spices can survive in the freezer for up to 3 years. Avoid storing small amounts of spice in the freezer because once opened, humidity will be trapped inside the container. If you plan on using your spices regularly, do not store them in the freezer because repeated opening and closing of the lid can create condensation and cause the spice to lose its potency.
It is beneficial to track when you purchased the spices so you know how long they will last and when to throw them out. To test if a spice is still potent enough to be effective in your food, smell and taste it. If the taste is not obvious and the smell is weak, you should probably replace the herb or spice.