How Long Do Dry Herbs Last and the Shelf Life of Spices

spoons filled with dried herbs and spices
Home-dried herbs last from 6-12 months, while commercially dried herbs have a shelf life of 2-3 years. Ground spices last for 2-4 years, while whole spices have a shelf life of 4-5 years. It’s best to store dried spices and dry herbs in an airtight container and label the container to track the shelf life.

Shelf Life of Fresh vs. Dried Herbs

Fresh herbs have a shelf life of a few days, while dried herbs can last 6 to 12 months when stored in airtight containers. To preserve fresh herbs, consider dehydrating or air-drying them. Drying herbs makes them shelf-stable, and they are able to be stored at room temperature.

Fresh and dried tarragon leaves side by side
Fresh and dried tarragon

Do Dry Herbs Expire? 

Although store-bought dried spices and herbs have expiration dates, they typically don’t spoil. Most store-bought dried herbs come with best-by dates, which specify when they should be used for the best quality and flavor. It is usually safe to use dry herbs that are beyond their best-by dates, but they won’t be as flavorful as fresh ones.

How Do You Know if Dried Herbs or Spices Are Fresh?

If you don’t know how long you’ve stored your dried herbs and spices, you can tell whether you need to replace old spices and herbs by inspecting their color, texture, aroma, and flavor.

1. Color

The color of your dried herbs should be rich and vibrant, not pale or faded. If the color is dull, it means that the dried herbs have lost their flavor and quality.

2. Scent

The aroma should be strong and fragrant. If your dried herbs have no identifiable scent, they are at the end of their shelf life.

3. Texture

The texture of fresh herbs is crumbly. If there is any evidence of moisture or the herbs stick together, discard them.

4. Taste

Fresh herbs are flavorful. If there is no discernable taste, it is best to discard them. While herbs that lack flavor likely won’t harm you, there’s no purpose in eating them.

Fresh dill fronds next to a cup of freshly dried dill
Fresh and dried dill

How Do You Store Dried Herbs and Spices Long Term?

Storing dried herbs and spices properly can help ensure the best flavor and quality throughout their shelf life. Here are a few tips to help you store spices and herbs for later use:

  • Store spices and dried herbs in an airtight container.
  • Label the storage container with the contents and the date.
  • Seal the containers immediately after every use.
  • Since heat affects the lifespan of herbs and spices, keep them away from the stove or oven.
  • Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dry, and dark place.
  • Store red pepper spices such as red pepper flakes, paprika, and chili powder in the refrigerator (instead of the freezer). Store all other dried spices in your pantry.
Several types of herbs in glass jars that are tilted over to show the contents
Herbs in glass jars

How Long Do Spices Last?

Different spices age differently due to differences in their natural composition, and whole spices and ground spices age differently. On average, whole spices last 4-5 years, while ground spices last 2-3 years. Here’s a list of the shelf lives of the most popular spices that you may have in your spice cabinet:

Dried SpicesShelf Life
Allspice2 – 3 years
Bay leaves2 – 3 years
Black pepper2 – 3 years
Cayenne pepper2 – 3 years
Chili Powder2 – 3 years
Cilantro1 – 3 years
Cinnamon sticks4 – 5 years
Coriander2 – 3 years
Cumin2 – 3 years
Oregano2 – 3 years
Paprika2 – 3 years
Red pepper flakes2 – 3 years
Seasoning blends1 – 2 years
Turmeric2 – 3 years
Whole cloves4 – 5 years
Whole peppercorns5 – 6 years

What are the Advantages of Storing Dried Herbs and Spices in the Freezer? 

Storing dried herbs and spices in the freezer offers several benefits:

  • It extends their shelf life from 6 months to 12 months.
  • It helps preserve the essential oils and flavor of the herbs.
  • It takes up little storage space.
  • Keeps dried herbs and spices away from heat, light, and moisture.
  • Keeps the seasonings safe from bacteria, mold, or insects.
  • Maintains the quality of the dried herbs and spices.

What are the Best Containers for Storing Dried Herbs and Spices?

It is best to store dried herbs in airtight containers. If you’re dehydrating and storing your own spices and herbs, you can store them in sealed glass or plastic containers. Most people prefer glass containers because they don’t stain easily and are easy to sterilize while providing a good, airtight seal.

Airtight glass jar of dried bay leaves
Dried bay leaf container

Should You Add Anything to Dried Herb Containers? 

It can be beneficial to add oxygen absorbers to dried herb containers. It’s an easy way to remove oxygen and extend the lifespan of the dried herbs.

Silica desiccants can also be used to absorb moisture and are useful in humid climates. Since herbs can absorb moisture from the air, adding silica desiccants to the storage containers can help maintain their dryness and prevent moisture from causing spoilage or mold growth.

What is the Best Storage Temperature for Dried Herbs and Spices?

The temperature at which you store dried herbs and spices plays a major role in how long they last. It’s best to store them at a temperature below 75°F. Room temperature is okay, but most people prefer to keep them in a place that remains cool and dry throughout the year.

Patrick Anampiu

Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic it is to dehydrate and preserve food by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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