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I had made a mental note to revisit the subject and talk about shelf life, among other things.Allen must have been on the same wave length as she wrote her second e-mail: “(Spices) are so expensive that I find myself holding on to them when they have actually probably lost their potency.” Herb or spice? They may be fresh or dried and may be crushed, crumbled, rubbed, whole or ground.(Some cooks have had limited success using larger amounts of herbs or spices that may have lost some of their “oomph.”) But given the time and work that go into many recipes, not to mention the expense of the ingredients, it seems foolhardy to risk a finished product that falls short of your expectations by using spices and herbs that may have passed their prime.When you do buy spices, look at the freshness date on the bottle.Popular spices come from berries (peppercorns), roots (ginger), seeds (coriander, mustard, poppy, sesame), bark (cinnamon), flower buds (cloves) or even the stamen of flowers (saffron).They may be added whole to a recipe, but more often are ground or powdered.Examples include basil, bay leaves, parsley, chives, marjoram, caraway, dill, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, sage and thyme.

And if you have priced small bottles of herbs and spices, you may be tempted to make do with what you already have.

So you have decided to make an old favorite family recipe and the vague image of a red and white spice tin purchased years ago comes to mind.

Once you find it lurking in the far corner of the cupboard, you go to check the date and discover there is none. ” A box will appear asking for the code printed on the bottom of the box or bottle. Look at the spice label to find the city where it was bottled.

Besides the aforementioned Web site, here are other ways to determine the freshness of dried herbs and spices: For more information: Old

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