Hankering to spring clean your spice rack? Don’t worry. You are not experiencing abject boredom or a new lockdown low. You’re tapping into the hottest (pun intended) food trend of 2021. Spices. Millions of scullery mavens are prepping their larders, pantries, turmeric-stained shelves and backdoor caddies for a new gleaming army.
Why are we all looking for spice jars?
Turns out, our globetrotting could not be confined. We couldn’t wander the world so we turned to the comfort of our kitchens instead. We explored every taste curiosity, radical recipe and street food fancy from one end of the planet to the other.
We collected the correct combination of spice to conjure a small spice jar of immune boosting homemade Zahtar (have you tried it on popcorn?). Satisfying Sri Lankan curries played to our plant-based preferences. We blended our own harissa pastes to include aromatic rose petal. We assembled a solid spice network including Amchoor for our chutneys, gram powder for versatile use and evocative flavour, and sought after Wayanad peppers because, let’s face it, they are the best.
We’ve cooked our hearts out. And now we are experiencing the fruit of our labours. Year 2021 is tipped to shatter records for spice trends reflective of our eclectic taste in home-cooked cuisine. It’s no wonder we’re all reorganising. Turns out, storing and stashing our spices correctly is essential to their flavour and success.
Storing spices: Know your spice jars
Decanting spices isn’t about aesthetics. The two pronged approach of glass and snug sealed lid create the ideal environment for spice storage. From a single small spice jar beside the cooker to its large clip top glassed mother container waiting to refill it in the larder, there is a reason why spices need careful cloistering.
Spice blenders and chefs recommend glass. Glass doesn’t collude with spice the way plastic containers and packets do. Leaving your spices in their plastic exposes them to humidity, weakens their aroma and colour and creates a clumpy situation incompatible with a satisfying curry. A professional clump busting tip is to stock jars with grinder lids. They remove clumps beautifully without affecting the winning spice trifecta: colour, aroma and taste.
Feature your favourite spice jars first
You may be tempted to arrange your spice by region or recipe. The best way to organise them is by popularity. If you notice you are favouring a particular spice, place it closest to your reaching hand. Ignore the urge to place a large jar of turmeric beside the cooker (once you’ve discovered pan fried turmeric potatoes it’s hard to put the turmeric back on the spice rack). It’s better for the health of the spice and taste of the dish to store some in a small spice jar, with a larger jar tucked away.
Spices stored well can last a while. Exposure to air creates problems. Constantly opening and closing a larger spice jar dulls the spice over time. You can’t go wrong with glass jars featuring these standard lids: old school shaker lids, butterfly lids (one side offering shaker holes, the other open to pour) and grinder lids. These classics provide all the reinforcements you require to successfully stash your international army of flavour.
Storage secrets of successful spice jars
Spices love to be in pantries and cupboards. Feel free to display on your counter top, wall or other exposed area. Just keep them out of direct sunlight. Ideal ambient storage temperature for spices is below 20 degrees Celsius. Ground spice stored correctly will stay its zesty zippy self. Professionals follow a general rule. Seeds, flowers and leaves have a shelf life of a year. Roots stay fresh for two years.
If you are looking for the maximum shelf life for your spice, consider gathering whole spices rather than ground. Much like freshly ground coffee beans transform the flavour of your cuppa, so too does freshly ground Wayanad pepper. As a rule most whole spices will keep their freshness for at least two years. If stored correctly, of course. If you are pressed for the perfect storage area for your spice rack, consider the back of a cupboard door.
Stoic spice jars ready to boost our mood
Our desire for flavour is set to dominate 2021. Our experience away from our daily commute caused us to dust off our oven gloves. We take turns supporting our local chefs. We stayed home and liberated our palates, our kitchens and ourselves from the rigours of lockdown routine.
When we cook at home we eat healthier, save money and experience joy. Mental health experts confirm cooking is a creative practice. The more we practice the better we become. It’s a stress buster, mood enhancer and provides opportunities to help others. And it’s nice to think amongst all the challenges we faced, we collectively chose to add some spice to our lives.