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keeping spices

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was just given five large bags of spices fresh from morocco: Red, sweet pepper - not sure what it's called, very bright red; Cumin; Tumeric (freshly ground and actually having a perfume to it, not just a nice color); Cinnamon; and Ginger. 

 

I put them in some glass jars and would like to keep them out because they're gorgeous, I love the colors in their shiny glass jars.  It's quite a quantity, each jar is full and holds half a quart - those jars with the red rubber ring and the heavy wire clamp that goes around the neck and the lid and hinges on one side and clamps on the other. 

 

I would like to leave them out because they're so beautiful. There's a corner of my counter that doesn;t get direct sunlight, though my kitchen is very bright with a large window on eitehr side and i thought to line them up there..  But will they fade - in color and flavor - if they;re not kept in the dark, like a cabinet or in dark containers?  The corner, as i said, has no direct sunlight, but the kitchen is bright. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 11

Yes, they will fade in flavor and color. How warm is your kitchen? What type of humidity? That plays a ton into the decision. Typically I don't like to store such a large amount out at room temperature. Instead I prefer keeping them in a cool, dry place with minimal light (which you already new). I don't think it is very often that you receive spices from morocco so I would be inclined to store them properly rather than enjoy the colors. A possible trade off would be buying some similar colored spices that are not as valuable and putting those in the jars.

 

I treat olive oil the same. No light unless it is in a dark bottle and I keep it away from the heat of the kitchen except during cooking.

 

The spices do sound beautiful can you post a picture of the jars with the spices?

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #3 of 11

The big enemies of ground spices are light and heat. Doesn't have to be direct sunlight, either.

 

It's a shame, but, if you leave those jars out on display you'll lose both color and flavor intensity. And it will happen relatively quickly.

 

Ironically, unless you keep some of them separately in the dark, you won't even notice the fading. Your mind fools you into thinking it's the same vibrant red, for instance, that you started with. But if you compare it to some you've stored properly you'll see the difference right off.

 

A lot of foodstuffs behave the same way, unfortunately. There's little that compares, for instance, with a row of jars, each holding a different color of dried tomatoes. But if you leave them exposed like that the colors fade soon fade. Same with dried beans. And........

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, you confirmed what i suspected.  I'll have to close them up, sadly.  However, as far as heat goes, my kitchen is VERY hot in summer - no air conditioning, so i'm afraid it's going to be hard to keep them at all. I liive on the top floor so there is no cool space.  summer temp usually in the 90s, when we're lucky it's the LOW 90s. 

 

If i put some tightly in plastic bags in the freezer? Plastic bags (air pushed out, tightly knotted) can be stuffed into little crannies between the food. No one mentioned refrigeration, and "cool place" just doesn't exist here in the summer.  But refrigerators are damp.  (And nobody REALLY knows if that little light really goes off when you shut the door.)

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 11

Siduri,

 

Feel free to send them to me.  I will store them in my dry, cool, dark basement for you!

post #6 of 11

Well, I reckon we were more concerned with what not to do with them.

 

If you have room, you can use those rubber-seal jars in the fridge. Fill 'em up, label, and you're good to go. Moisture won't penetrate.

 

Freezing is OK too.

 

In both cases, however, you need to be aware of potential condensation. The way to avoid it is to have the complete container (jar, plastic bag, whatever) come to room temperature before opening it. With large quanitites this can be a real PITA.

 

My recommentation would be to package the spices in amounts you'd reasonably expect to use in, say, six months. The bulk of those packages can go in the freezer, one of them in the fridge, and one becomes your working supply.

 

When you are about to run out of your working supply, transfer the one from the fridge to the working container (after letting it reach room temp), and one of the frozen ones to the fridge.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

That's a great idea KY - I was thinking that the stuff got humid in the fridge or freezer, but of course it's the condensation.  Makes sense.

 

I don't have space for anything in my small fridge freezers, so i'll have to put them in individual plastic bags in small amounts which can be stuffed in the little spaces between things. . (I have two fridges with freezers but there's hardly enough room for anything when you have to shop once a week and you eat a lot of vegetables.  In the winter i hang the bags of veg outside over the backs of chairs.  . 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 11

I was going to suggest the same as KYH. Another option if you have a food saver or vacuum sealer is to vacuum seal small quantities of the spices and then freeze them. This would be better than the jars since it will remove all air from the surface and would have a very tight seal. 

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #9 of 11

Good thought about the sealer, Nicko. Would make especial sense for Siduri because she needs to make small packages to tuck here and there in the freezer.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 11

I've ordered a bunch of small metal tins, 2, 4 and 6 ounce metal ones, with slip covers. I'll be using these at home. I was going to use the small ones for immediate supply at room temperature, and the rest of them in the fridge or freezer. Sound like a good idea?

post #11 of 11

No help with the storage, the original post just brought back a memory.  Years ago in the homebrew days one of the crew visited Africa.  He brought back little gifts for all of us.  Mine was a little tub of curry powder from some random vendor at a Nairobi street market.  Wow.  It was *SO* good.  I can imagine how good your spice gifts smell and taste.

 

I'm jealous.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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