Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Storing Your Herbs
This time of year I am always thinking about the preservation time periods I will get from the herbs I am drying. I thought this would be a great time to share the average shelf life
Shelf-life is a term used to reflect the amount of time an herb or spice has before its taste, flavor and scent deteriorate. The components of a plant that give it smell and taste are called volatile oils. Those oils can evaporate or oxidize. To maintain the best length of time the herbs and spices should be as close to whole leaf as possible. For example those that are cut or powdered and have more surface area can deteriorate much more quickly.
Time periods to use for keeping herbs and spices:
Whole Herbs and spices
Leaves and flowers 1 year
Seeds and barks 2+ years
Roots 3+ years
Ground Spices and Herbs
Leaves and flowers 6 months
Seeds and barks 6 months
Roots 1 year
Black and green 1 year
Herbal Teas 1 years
How you store them is also important to the length of time they stay potent. Closed containers to protect them from direct sunlight or extreme heat are best. This prevents oxidation which deteriorates the flavor, color and aroma. Small jars closer to the size of the herbs or spices held cuts down on air trapped with them which can increase the deterioration. Spices and herbs can pick up the odors of items around them so something sealed is best.
Avoiding light is helpful in improving the length of freshness. Dark colored jars or those covered entirely with labels that will block light are perfect.
Moisture build up which can happen when the temperature fluctuates can be very damaging. It can cause the flavor to seem off and can result in mold. Make sure that your herbs are not stored next to the stove or above it for this will result in great fluctuations in both temperature and humidity.