Quick Tip – Rescuing Spices

Rescuing Spices - Old Bay Seasoning

The Caribbean humidity and spices do not get along. Rust eats away tins, spice blends clump, and in the worst case scenario, mold might grow on any jar that wasn’t completely sealed off. Based on these experiences, I’ve gathered some tricks for saving money and rescuing spices that might have been affected by humidity.

Old Bay Seasoning comes in the cutest, yet flimsiest tins. I have bought at least three in the last five years, and they all end up rusty and unusable. For only two dollars more than what it costs at the grocery store, I bought the bulk plastic container from the warehouse club. After separating about a quarter cup to keep on hand, the rest went into a vacuum sealed bag. It will be ready for refilling (or to share with anyone craving extra savory celery salt). If vacuum sealing is not an option, store the spices in a resealable bag and store the bag inside a larger zipper bag.

On the flip side, for spices I do not use as often, I buy the smallest available size.  In Puerto Rico and in Latin specialty stores stateside spices are often sold in small resealable bags.  I stuff these little bags either inside a larger zipper bag or in food-safe plastic canisters.  We bought some like the one in the picture at the Container Store.

If the humidity already got the best of the spices or blends, toast them over medium heat on a non-stick pan before using.  Break up any clumps with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula.  The heat will help evaporate the humidity and separate the clumps. Added bonus – the spices will be more fragrant.

Do you have any kitchen pet peeve or problem that begs to be solved?  More ideas for rescuing spices? Sound off in the comments section!

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

4 Responses to “Quick Tip – Rescuing Spices”

  1. August 10, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    What always got me at my first apartment was sugar ants. I lived on the top story of the building and they would just trail right in … it was impossible. I never did figure out how to get rid of them (of course, then I moved … that worked pretty well too). 😉

    • Adriana
      August 10, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      That was probably the best way out of the problem! 🙂

      My parents had a sugar ant problem too. There was a lot of sleuthing to see where they were coming from but after we figured that out, it was a matter of placing a couple of squirts of a clear gel.

  2. Mary Hirsch
    August 10, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Great advice. Thanks for sharing. Since I’ve recently moved and have resettled a new kitchen, I am in the process of tossing all my spices that are old (no rusty ones in dry, dry Colorado). Spices are expensive (I purchase Pensey’s) so am always happy to hear preservation tips.

    • Adriana
      August 10, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      I have climate control envy then. 🙂 I hope you are fully settled now into your new kitchen, Mary.

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