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Sniff those spices

india Updated: Jan 04, 2010 18:18 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Are the spices lurking in your kitchen cupboard still potent enough to be used for baking?

Find out if the flavour and aroma is up to snuff — just give each a sniff. “Open it. Smell it. If it doesn’t smell really, really good and really, really strong, I would throw it out,” said Monica Bhide, a Washington, D.C.-based cooking school teacher and author of Modern Spice.

“It has not only lost its potency, but also, in some cases, it’ll be like you’re cooking with sawdust.” Her advice — “Buy whole, buy small quantities and use lots of it.”

Some Tips

1. Shop: Check the package date; if there’s no date, mark one on the package. “Buy from reputable stores that’ve a fast turnaround,” says Bhide.
2. Store: Not by the stove (“The most convenient place and the worst place,” she said). Keep in small containers with tight screw tops in a cool, dry cupboard.
3. Sniff: Smell spices. Crush dried herbs, then sniff. If a spice solos in a dish, it’s crucial that its flavour and aroma are strong.
4. Toss: Depending on storage conditions, whole spices last two years. Ground spices last six months to a year. But if you don’t want to toss out old cinnamon sticks, place with old whole cloves in a pot of water; simmer about 15 minutes to scent your home.

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