Spice Up Your Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air, and that calls for a clean sweep of the house. If you’re a serious foodie, the kitchen is a great place to start. And in my kitchen, there is one spot that always needs a good spring cleaning—my spice cabinet.

Spring Cleaning In 3 Easy Steps

Come on now, don’t be shy. Your spice cabinet is nothing to be ashamed of, even if you have had some of those jars and extracts in your cupboard since you moved in. Just blame the overflow on your winter holiday cooking and then commit to a spicy clean up. But where do you start?

Ground spices and herbs are at their best the first three to four months after opening. They will, however, retain a less potent flavor for up to three years. Please note that most ingredients are marked with a “best by” date, and you should always consider the manufacturer’s storing recommendations. Have no fear if you consume them past that date, they are most likely safe for consumption (unless they have been infested with weevils, which of course means toss and replace). Want to review guidelines for specific spices? Visit EatByDate.com.

Once you have successfully sorted through your cabinet, it is time to organize. Type A personalities may go as far as alphabetizing their cabinets, but regardless of how extreme your organizing is, you must be sure each container is labeled with the product’s name, the date it was opened, and the expected expiration date. This will alert you when it’s time to do a sniff test to check their potency.

What do you do with your extra herbs and spices that aren’t expired? My family and I enjoy using them to make blends to use at home or give as gifts. These blends can be packed away in clean airtight containers for use at home or in decorated and personalized jars for hostess gifts, party favors, Mother’s Day gifts, or Easter basket stuffers. On the next page are my top five inspirations from this year’s spring cleaning. All will yield approximately one 4-ounce jar except the American Pie Blend, which yields three 4-ounce jars. Use these blends as inspirational starting points and then let your palette take it from there. For finer blends, work the herbs and spices through a sieve or pulse in an electric coffee grinder or food mill.

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Note about Infused Blends: After about 2 weeks, the salt or sugar will be infused. If a fine blend is preferred, strain through a fine mesh sieve or grind in an electric coffee mill or food processor.

Be prepared for almost any recipe with Emily Ellyn’s Essential Spice Rack—the must-have spices to always have in stock—online at EdibleCleveland.com