How to Store Dried Herbs to Make them Last Longer
How long have the dried herbs that you own been in your kitchen cabinet? I know people who keep their plastic containers of dried herbs for years and still use them now and then in recipes. I also know that this isn't the best choice since dried herbs to last only about a year at the most. If you want to have meals that taste great then you need to make sure that you use dried herbs that are still at their best. This means properly storing your herbs.
Dried herbs should be stored in dark, airtight containers
Many people buy their dried herbs in plastic containers from the store and then leave them in those containers. This is a mistake. The plastic can actually affect the smell and taste of the dried herbs over time. You don't want that. Whenever you purchase dried herbs from the store, you should transfer them over to a better container. The ideal container is a dark glass jar with an airtight lid. You don't want light or air getting in to the herbs while they're in storage because this shortens their good-tasting lfe span.
Dried herbs should be stored in cool areas
Once you have placed your dried herbs in the proper container, you want to place that container in the proper storage area. Ideally, this will be a cool place like a basement. If need be, you can keep your dried herbs stored in your kitchen. However, you don't want to store them too close to your stove (a major mistake that many people make). The periodic heat from the stove can affect the stored herbs and reduce their flavor. For the same reason, you wouldn't want to store herbs on top of the fridge or any other appliance that generates heat.
Dried herbs should be stored in dark areas
You don't want light affecting the quality of your dried herbs so you should store them in places where they aren't going to be affected by light. If you've chosen good dark containers then this shouldn't be a problem. The main point here is that you probably want to put your dried herbs in a basement or cabinet and not just out on the counters.
Dried herbs must be kept dry
This should go without saying but it doesn't always occur to people so we'll make a note of it here. Keep your dried herbs stored in a dry location where they can't get wet. Basements are good for a lot of reasons but damp basements may not be a good choice precisely because the herbs may not stay dry. Of course, if you've selected a good airtight container then you shouldn't have a problem but just keep this in mind when storing your herbs.
Dried herbs can be stored in the freezer
A great cool, dark, dry place in your house might be the freezer. If you have a proper freezer-safe storage container then it's fine to store your dried herbs there.
Label your dried herbs with important information
Your dried herbs are going to last about a year at best even when stored properly. For that reason, it's a good idea to know when the herbs were purchased so you can use them in a timely manner. It's smart to label your herb containers with the type of herb, the location of purchase and the date of purchase to assist you in using them properly. Of course, you shouldn't rely on the date alone to make sure that your dried herbs are still good. Look for a strong color and crush them to get a good sense of smell before you use them. If they are faded, too dry or odorless then they're no longer good even though they may have been properly stored.