Spring Cleaning – The Spice Cabinet

800px-Spices_in_an_Indian_marketIt’s March 21st and the perfect opportunity to plan some weekend Spring Cleaning.  Even though it’s too cold in Brooklyn to open the windows and air out the winter blues of my stuffy apartment, there are plenty of things I can do in the kitchen to get ready for a new season, warmer temps, and re-growth.


Take this opportunity to go through your Spice Cabinet.  That’s right – all of those spices you’ve accumulated this past year for holiday baking, braising, and so on.  Chances are, you’ve got quite a bit in your cupboard that you don’t even realize is expired. It’s ok, Grandma: part with a full bottle of ground cloves. You won’t need them until next year when you bake pumpkin pie again and guess what, they’ll definitely be expired by then. While you rummage through the cupboard casualties, it’s a great chance to assess how much of each spice you actually use.  Maybe next time, instead of buying that full-sized 2.2 oz jar of ground ginger, you’ll realize you use only a few tablespoons a year and will opt for a 1 oz jar, available from companies like Penzey’s Spices.


Spices in my cabinet that I know will never expire are granulated garlic, black peppercorns, salt, and cumin.  I find myself replacing these jars a few times throughout the year, so I can buy them freely with no worry.  It’s a good idea to look at the expiration date when you are at the store shopping for spices – you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf.  Once they’re opened, they’re only good for about 6 months, so write the date opened on the bottom of your jar in permanent marker, and you won’t have to do the guessing game.


And the best part about cleaning out your spice cabinet?  It’s super easy and hardly daunting.  It will get you in the mood for the more time-consuming tasks of spring cleaning.  I would much rather toss spices than wash my duvet cover and pillows, but alas, it must be done.  But maybe only after baking something to use up the last of that almost-expired ground Vietnamese cinnamon…