December 08, 2007

Spice Girl

Don’t ask me where the members of my family find the incredibly odd things on the internet that they do, but TGOO sent us all THIS link to a McCormick website that tells you if the spices in your spice drawer should be tossed.

Because… you know… they may be too old. Not that it ever crossed my mind that they could ever be… old.

Well, as good fortune would have it, I cleaned out my spice cabinet last week. I have no idea what’s wrong with me. First I clean the fridge for the first time in 11 ½ years and then I tackle my spice cabinet for the first time… well… ever. Probably since I married, which is coming up on 17 years.

God forbid should I actually tackle the big stuff that screams to be cleaned... like the boys' toy room. (Time to donate old toys... a daunting task.)

I took down the lazy susans, washed them down, threw out spices I knew intuitively needed to be tossed, threw out spices I LOATHE, and wiped out the cupboard, which had also never been done. (Tarragon, do people actually like the taste of that? Goes right up with cilantro in tastes I abhor. Cilantro tastes like soap. Tarragon tastes like… ick.)

Then I received said link from TGOO and thought I’d go through and see if I had spices that needed to be thrown out, but were not intuitively obvious. Back in the day, spices didn’t have a ‘best if used by’ date, like they do now.

Back in the day would be, when I got married.

I found I needed to throw away my ground ginger, which was fine as I had two, because it was in a package that McCormick’s doesn’t use anymore except for black pepper. Ummm… according to the site, they haven’t used that packaging in… 15 years.

The site has a place where you can look for the manufacturer’s date, which I did for a few of them. I’m sorry, but I’m just not getting rid of all my spices. I know some of them were manufactured in *ahem* 1992 *ahem*, but if they smell spicey to me, I’m keeping them.

Same goes for my extracts. The site says they are good for 4 years. Well, if my coconut extract, which I feel certain is over 10 years old, still smells all coconutty, it stays.

I did get rid of a couple. If I had dupes and one of them was really old, it got tossed. Some of them… it was time. If it was dated 1992 and was clumpy? It got trashed.

But until I hit the lottery, I’m not replacing them all. Maybe one at a time… but definitely not at once. And that was just my McCormick spices. I have French, Badia, Spice Islands, and assorted other brands. I buy whatever is the cheapest or on sale.

For now on, I just need to buy whatever is in the smallest container. Other than the basics like cinnamon, paprika, basil, oregano and garlic powder, all of which I must buy in bulk, the others never get used up!

Posted by Boudicca at December 8, 2007 11:33 PM | TrackBack

I recently threw out some ginger that I'd had since moving out on my own in 1982. And I only did that because YsD moved her spices in and there was no room at the inn for ginger any more.
I'd never used it. ;)

Posted by: pam at December 9, 2007 03:28 AM

I can't figure out where the hell the coriander came from. There's a full jar of it in the spice drawer. It's never even been opened. If I bought it, I can't remember why. Does anyone even know what coriander is used for?

Posted by: Peggy U at December 9, 2007 03:49 AM

Great... first my baking soda and powder... now i have to look at spices???

Posted by: vw bug at December 9, 2007 09:17 AM

Even though it smells "spicy", the flavor will be very weak. Just before Thanksgiving every year, I go through all my spices and make a list of things that are older than a couple of years, then buy new.

Fresh spices do make a difference.

Posted by: Ted at December 9, 2007 09:46 AM

Pam- You win! 1982 is 10 years on the oldest spice I had!!!

Peggy- I looked it up and it said its cilantro? Blech! Or something like it? It said Indian food... I suspect if it is in the cilantro family, I would not like it. I will say, I have no coriander in my spice cabinet.

VW- Funny you should say that. YOU were one of the first people I thought of. I was remembering what you were saying about throwing all of the powder and soda out, which I did when I was cleaning it the first time.

Ted! You are not helping here! Gah! I am guessing I will probably replace the old stuff as I need to use it. No sense replacing something I'll never use only for it to go bad unopened.

Posted by: Bou at December 9, 2007 10:40 AM

I love cilantro/coriander. For some people it tastes metallic or soapy, but not for me. I use the dried spice in my cajun mix, and fresh in salads, guacamole, thai food.

And I'm with you Bou, I'm sure some of my spices are way too old, but they are staying put!

Posted by: Fleat at December 9, 2007 02:58 PM

I have spices that are older than my son times two.

Posted by: Lukie at December 9, 2007 05:13 PM

This actually makes me feel a lot better. I have spices from 2001, some that have sat in storage units boxed up for a year. They still work, but I've wondered in the back of my mind if I need to get rid of them.

I think I'm fine...

Posted by: Sissy at December 9, 2007 08:26 PM

I'm glad you can't see my "best if used by" date... but I'm hopeful as well, that if you could, I'd be safe, cause you're cheep God bless you... and no, I ain't clumpy... yet. Fine as frog hair am I.

But you didn't ask "What if you were one of my spices?" did you?

Posted by: RedNeck at December 9, 2007 08:50 PM

Peggy? I use mine for chicken enchiladas.....

Posted by: Tammi at December 10, 2007 05:41 AM

I'm with Ted. Spices lose all their flavor after a few years - some after just months - and there's no point in putting it in your food if it ain't gonna taste right.

Of course, so many of us grew up eating food cooked with outdated, worn-out spices and herbs that we don't even know what some foods are supposed to taste like.

What happens when spices get really old? This. Be warned.

Posted by: Elisson at December 10, 2007 04:05 PM

Spices? What's this 'spices'? (I hate to cook, can't you tell?)

Posted by: Mrs. Who at December 10, 2007 06:08 PM