Herbs & Spices – How to store and how to grow


When was the last time you took a look at your spice cupboard?  I’m sure like most people you have spices that have been in your cupboard since you moved into your first home. You just keep moving them from place to place because they don’t go bad…right? Or doubles because you didn’t dig back far enough in the cupboard to know you already had it.

How about you take the time on a rainy summer day to organize and purge your spice cupboard – I bet it won’t take more than ½ hour once you commit to it.

Follow these basic principles:

  • Remove all of your spices from every hiding place onto the counter
  • Never store spices above the stove or dishwasher – too much heat and humidity
  • Give away or throw away duplicates – especially if it’s one of those spices that you rarely use
  • Toss it out if you have no idea how long you had it – some websites[1] say 1-2 years for whole, ground or dried leafy spices and some say 3-4 years for whole, ground – they say that they lose their strength but don’t spoil. I’m not sure about that!
  • Throw out the old spice but not the container, just clean it out, make sure it’s dry and reuse it or as I do use mason jars 125ml size – you can see what’s inside the container, they are stackable and it has a nice wide opening for measuring spoons and use a sharpie to write the contents on the lid.
  • Purchase your spices at a bulk store – that way you can limit the amount, reduce the waste and save a boat load of money! You don’t have to refill the containers to the top unless you use that spice regularly and bulk stores have senior’s days and sales regularly…so watch for those too!
  • Don’t leave the spices in the bulk store baggies..you won’t remember what it’s them – trust me!
  • Store your spices together and in dark cupboard if possible.
  • Keep the grocery list of spices that need replacement and use the flyer or your preferred flyer APP to take advantage of sales – my local store has a regular deal – spend $10 and save $3

How about growing your own?  Not a green thumb – no worries – do you have a sunny window, deck or small balcony – then go for it…Here are a few hints:

  • Pick up small clay pots & soil at a nursery or discount store
  • Grow herbs that you use regularly – basil, oregano, chives, thyme, sage
  • Pay attention to the growing instructions, like sun/shade – how often to water
  • Watch for invasive plants…mint grows like a weed – literally!
  • Cut off a chunk with scissors as you need it..rinse under the tap to get the dirt off
  • When fall arrives – dry the rest and use all winter, there are differing opinions and methods to preserving herbs – I lay them flat on a cookie sheet and keep them in a jar, others freeze or store in oil, depends on what you will be using them for, just Google® it.

I hope this was helpful and inspired you to clean out that spice cupboard or grow your own herbs. There is a great deal of satisfaction from growing your own.   Good luck!

[1] Stilltasty.com & spiceinc.com

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