Is your spice cabinet looking a little spooky these days? Maybe your nutmeg jar has been collecting spider webs, and you’re too scared to use it. Fear not! We chatted with Tina Grassia at Grassia’s Italian Market Spice Company to understand what expiration dates on spice jars mean.

Here is what Tina shared with us:

What spices are impacted the most by expiration?

TG:  Spices don’t really have an expiration date, to be honest. Use the smell test instead! If you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. It loses it’s taste and it’s aroma. It’s not harmful at all. It just doesn’t taste as good. Dried herbs last longer than dried ground spices. Storage also matters! Keeping all spices in an airtight glass jar in a cool place—not over the stove!—helps your spices last longer and keeps them flavorful!

Are there health implications to adding expired spices to your cooking?

TG: Nope. They will either taste like nothing at all or they’ll taste a little funny, especially spices like dried garlic and onion.

Which lasts longer: whole spices or ground spices?

TG: Whole spices hold their freshness for longer than ground spices. Grinding spices introduces moisture into the spice, leading it to lose their flavor earlier.

Can you refresh old spices?

TG: Yes! Grinding a whole spice or moving around a ground spice with a spoon or fork can help release the aroma and flavor in the spice.

What is the best way to store spices?

TG: To keep your spices fresh for longer, transfer them to an airtight glass jar and store them in a cool, dry place—not over the stove! If you dry your own herbs, those can last up to a year in a glass jar.

Finally, what is the best way to grind whole spices?

TG: The best way is the way you are able to grind them! A clean coffee grinder, a mortar and pestle, a glass and spoon, or a rolling pin and wax paper—all of these work for grinding whole spices.

Thank you to Tina for chatting with us & helping us finish out spice month on an informative note!