The One Thing You Should Never Do When Cooking with Dried Herbs and Spices
Think before you shake.
Let’s say you are simmering a pot of marinara sauce on the stovetop and want to add an extra pinch of garlic powder. Or maybe that sizzling skillet of chicken fajitas needs a little more chipotle chile powder and ground cumin. Or maybe your steaming hot bowl of oatmeal tastes a little too plain jane this morning—a dash of cinnamon and ground ginger will help wake things up for sure.
STOP RIGHT THERE!
Don’t just grab that spice bottle and start shaking it. When you shake an open bottle of herbs or spices directly over a steaming hot pan or bowl, moisture can enter the bottle and cause the contents to turn moldy or clump together.
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Instead, pour out the amount of spices you need into a measuring spoon, a small bowl, or your palm, then sprinkle (or dump) the spices into the dish. Easy! If you prefer to scoop a measuring spoon into a jar of spices, make sure the spoon is completely dry so that it doesn’t leave behind any moisture in the spice jar.
It may take a little retraining to remember to grab the measuring spoons every time you open the spice drawer, but this simple step is worth the trouble.
Good-quality spices are expensive, and the last thing you want to do is shorten their lifespan. Store them in a cool, dark place (not out on wall-mounted a spice rack where they are exposed to light), and give them the sniff test every so often to make sure they are still potent. Spices tend to lose their flavor and aroma after a few years.