Any idea what’s wrong with this photo?

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Keep reading, and you’ll find out.

As I started to prepare for the previously announced “no processed foods” 30-day challenge, I started to think about the fact that I would almost surely begin buying a lot more fresh produce and cooking more homemade meals.  One constant ingredients for said meals?  Herbs & spices.  We have a spice rack (pictured above) that we’ve had since we moved to Portland in 2011.  It’s lasted a long time, and I really didn’t think too much about the spices we use, since the food SEEMED to taste good. That’s until I read this article.

Now, I realize I am a complete idiot when it comes to using spices/herbs, and I’m sure I am not the ONLY person who will realize they’re doing this all wrong 🙂

Some key points from this article by eHow:

  • Whether fresh or dried, look for and purchase spices in cans with tight fitting lids or screw top caps as they can be kept more airtight

  • If possible buy spices and herbs in small amounts. Spices and herbs usually begin to deteriorate after about three months, especially if not stored properly
  • To get the best flavor from spices and herbs, purchase whole spices and crush small amounts with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Grind larger amounts in a pepper mill or coffee grinder

  • Look at the jars and bottles of spices before you purchase them. Spices with a dull or dark color are safe to use but may not have as flavor
  • Store dried spices and herbs in a cool, dark, and dry place. Heat, moisture, and strong light can degrade the flavor and effectiveness of your seasonings. Do not display seasonings on open racks above or near your stove or dishwasher or anywhere in your kitchen they will be exposed to heat

  • You can safely store your whole dried spices and herbs by putting them in your freezer for up to three years to keep them fresher. However, you can only store ground seasonings in your freezer for no more than six months
  • Write the date you bought the herbs and spices on the containers with a marker. Check for a change in color, a musty odor or no odor. These are indicators that herbs and spices may have degraded and will no longer flavor food the way the should

Pay close attention to the highlighted, red sections above.  These are all the ways we screwed up.  We store our herbs/spices in containers on the kitchen counter (either above the dishwasher or next to the stove), both of which are hot places that have probably degraded them beyond recognition. We haven’t changed them out with fresh versions since 2011. I am pretty sure this is WAY beyond the recommended six month time frame :/ Damn it to hell!

Long story short, I am now working to identify the spices/herbs we use the most, replace them with fresher versions and get them up into the dry, cool cabinet that’s 10 inches away from where they are now.  So close, yet SO FAR AWAY.

Have you been storing your herbs/spices properly?  Take the below, unscientific poll.  And tell the truth, LIAR.