6 Ways You Can Use Your Expired Spices

Sorry to break it to you, but your seasonings are probably way out of season.

Spice rack hanging on wall
Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

If you're passionate about cooking, you probably feel a great sense of pride when it comes to your spice collection. But the downside of owning everything from allspice to za'atar is that all spices have an expiration date, and many of them have a shelf-life that is much shorter than you think. Furthermore, when spices expire, they noticeably lose flavor and potency, and their original color begins to fade.

If you're looking to get the most out of your spices, we recommend buying whole spices over ground whenever possible. Because whole spices have less surface area that's exposed to oxygen—the key offender in the spice degradation game—they'll hold onto their flavor for a longer period of time. Another hot tip is to shop for spices at specialty markets or spice stores rather than buying them at your local supermarket. Spices sold at a specialty market may be a bit more expensive, but they'll stay fresher for longer, which will help you save money in the end.

It's a good idea to do a spice rack sweep every six months to make sure you're not still utilizing the old stuff. Ensuring that you're cooking with the freshest spices will guarantee that dishes like kebabs or spiced rice with crispy chickpeas are as bold and flavorful as can be. However, before you throw those old spices in the trash, consider repurposing them. As it turns out, there are many ways to reuse old spices and avoid unnecessary waste.

01 of 06

Craft seasonal candles

Who doesn't love a fragrant candle during the fall season? To make your own, melt soy wax, coconut oil, and spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla bean in a double boiler. Then, slowly pour the mixture into a heat-resistant glass container, like a mason jar.

02 of 06

Create natural dyes

If you want to make your own dye, choose colorful spices like turmeric, saffron petals, and paprika, and wrap each one in a cheesecloth separately. Boil a pot of water, drop one of the bundles into the water, and let it simmer for about an hour. Pour in one cup of white vinegar into the colored water and then place the fabric you wish to dye in the pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Ring your garment out and let it hang dry.

RELATED: 6 Creative Hobbies That Double as Stress-Busters

03 of 06

Keep insects away

Yes you can repel little critters with your spice cabinet rejects, because bugs and insects hate the scent of certain spices. Make sachets using dried basil, bay leaves, dill, lavender, rosemary, garlic, or thyme, and place them in areas where bugs like to congregate.

04 of 06

Make potpourri

Heating spices helps express their aroma and transform them into ace potpourri material. To make your own potpourri, boil a pot of water and add ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, or cloves. You can throw in citrus peels, too.

05 of 06

Craft your own bar soap

Spices smell wonderful in DIY soap, and the granular bits will act as a natural exfoliant.

RELATED: Exfoliation Is the Secret to Glowing Skin—But Only If You're Doing It Right

06 of 06

Make spice sachets

Many spices, like sage, thyme, and oregano, have natural deodorizing effects. Pour them into a small sachet and hang them in musty areas of your home, like the basement or garage, to freshen up the space.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles