Managing a spice collection

Spices never fail to add a touch of exotic to the everyday: from the sizzle as they
hit hot oil, and the piercing aroma at first stir, to the flavours they weave together
as if by magic. But managing a growing collection is not without its challenges. At
last count I had 52 spices covering Middle Eastern, European, Chinese and
Indian cookery so I’ve learnt the hard way how to do just this.

Here are my top tips for managing spices:


  • Buy small quantities, spices get their flavour from essential oils and these get weaker with time
  • Store them away from heat and light, both of which will weaken their potency. A cupboard will do just fine. Feel free to take them out on to the counter while cooking for ease
  • Only use a dry and clean spoon to use them. Moisture will spoil them
  • Don’t throw out spices, use them! A quick tip to reinvigorate old spices is to warm them gently before using them – it gives them a quick lease of life.
  • Check your cupboard before you buy a new jar of spice, so you don’t end up with three jars of cumin
  • Clean out your spice drawers or shelves regularly and put old ones to use.
  • Check out our recipes for lots of inspiration on how to put your spice cupboard to best use.

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