Moms Columns & Blogs

How to tame your spice cabinet

Ever wonder why some of your spices are not as flavorful as they used to be? Flavor in a spice is stored in the form of essential oils and as those oils evaporate over time the flavor and aroma goes with it. Ground spices have a limited shelf life of about a year and whole spices for about 2 – 3 years. Purchasing small amounts of spice at a time is always best practice to ensure you are getting the most flavors from the spice. Remember too, general rules for storing spices are to keep them in an airtight container, out of sunlight and in a cool, dry place. If your spices are near a window or stove consider moving them elsewhere to a pantry shelf, inside a cabinet or a drawer.

Does it sound like time for you to clean out the cupboard and replace your old bottles with freshly ground spices? If so, keep it simple by stocking up with your essentials and purchase spices for those special recipes as needed. To encourage you further, from January 21st through February 29th bring your tired, old competitor spice bottles to Savory Spice Shop (South End location) and get $1.00 off any new bottle. You do not need to buy an exact replacement for the bottle you contribute.

Here are our top 10 pantry picks to get you started:

1. Tellicherry Pepper – This black pepper is offered in a variety of sizes as well as whole for those who prefer to grind with a peppermill.

2. Salt – Pink Himalayan fine or La Baleine are wonderful alternatives to standard table salt

3. Basil – European basil is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cooking and pairs well with capers, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, oregano, mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Practically everything is better with basil including but not limited to; tomatoes, corn, olives, mozzarella cheese, poultry, seafood, pasta, sauces and pizza.

4. Oregano - Greek Oregano has a milder, sweet flavor that matches well with thyme, basil, rosemary, sage and marjoram. Used extensively in Italian cooking and is often found in pizza, pasta sauces and many other tomato based sauces. Mexican oregano is a bit stronger, less bitter and less minty than the Greek species. It is widely used in Southwestern and Mexican cooking

5. Cantanzaro Herbs – A perfect Italian blend hand mixed from garlic, lemon peel, marjoram, European basil, Mediterranean thyme, rosemary and Greek oregano. Goes well in pasta sauce, on garlic bread and pizzas.

6. Tomato Powder – Just mix with water to create an instant tomato paste!

7. Cinnamon –. Sprinkle on toast, pancakes, waffles or in coffee. Pairs well with pumpkin and other squashes and is a necessary ingredient in many curries. Savory Spice Shop has five different cinnamons to select from. Ask us to explain the differences next time you are in the shop!

8. Cumin – Use ground cumin in chili, tamales, marinades, barbecue sauces and burgers. It can even be used in some desserts, including cookies.

9. Chili Powder – A convenient blend that replaces many individual jars on the spice rack. Don’t confuse this with ground chile peppers; chili powder usually contains chile peppers plus cumin, coriander, oregano, and many other spices.

10. Vanilla Extract – A must have for bakers. This pairs nicely with desserts and surprisingly, it is also useful in tomato based sauces. Just a dash cuts acidity and will help bring the flavors to the surface. Savory Spice Shop carries Madagascar, Tahitian, Mexican and double strength vanilla extracts.

Amy MacCabe is owner of Savory Spice Shop Charlotte South End, Atherton Mill and Market, 2000 South Blvd, Suite 150, Charlotte, NC 28203, Store: (980) 225-5419,, Reprinted with permission from The Simplicity Blog, produced by Simplicity Certified Professional Organizers of Charlotte.