State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600638
Since commercially ground spices lose their flavor and
aroma quickly-within six months- many people like to grind
their own. As long as spices are whole, you can safely keep
them tightly capped in a kitchen cupboard. Spices release
their oils by cracking or grinding them, you multiply
their surface area at least eightfold and expose them to
oxygen. Then the spices belong in the freezer. (That's why
ground coffee belongs in the freezer, too).
A coffee mill can be used for spice grinding. If you
blend your own curry seasonings from whole spices, be sure
to keep the leftover mixture and the partially used spices
in the freezer.
Green peppercorns are highly perishable immature
peppercorns. If they are purchased packed in brine, you
should expect green peppercorns to spoil. Either freeze
them on a cookie sheet, collect them in a jar and keep them
in the freezer, or add them to butter and freeze them.
One category of spices belong in the refrigerator or
the freezer for reasons of safety, as well as for flavor
retention. Red spices, including red pepper, chili powder,
all the paprikas and cayenne pepper contain insect eggs in
their tissues, even after they've been ground up. When the
temperature and the humidity are high, worms can grow.