In my seemingly never ending shopping trips for cooking classes I noticed that nearly all of the dried herbs and spices are on sale these next few weeks. This is a great time to check your jars and restock. Open them up and sniff — if they don’t have a strong aroma that matches what the label says, time to replace. Now is a great time to take advantage of the sales.

Most dried herbs and spices last for six months to a year. Over the course of that time, the essential oils in them evaporate, and they no longer have that familiar aroma or flavor. The more finely ground a spice, the faster the essential oils disappear — which is why whole spices last longer and have more flavor. If you use much less than a jarful in a year’s time, you might want to consider purchasing your dried herbs and spices in the bulk food section of your market, where you can buy smaller quantities.

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