How to store and use Culpepers Herbs and Spices
by Stephan De Jonghe
We do put a little warning on our packs about how to store Culpepers’ Herbs and Spices. It reads “STORE IN A COOL DRY PLACE AWAY FROM DIRECT SUNLIGHT, TOXIC CHEMICALS, ODOURS, VERMIN AND INSECT INFESTATION”
Storing Herbs and spices in a cool place helps the shelf life of the product. Heat separates the essential oils found in herbs and spices and they are what give off the ‘flavour’ when adding it to your cooking.
Keeping them dry prevents mold from growing on the herb or spice. All of them are susceptible and dryness should be maintained at all times or they spoil your cooking rather than enhancing it.
Sunlight is very bad for herbs and spices as it is for any food item. Sunlight brings heat which promotes oil separation, causes condensation which forms as concentrated moisture droplets and bleaches the herb or spice robbing it of its natural colour.
Toxic chemicals include detergents, deodorisers, insect sprays and others. These constantly give of a chemical odour. Herbs and spices absorb aroma so if stored in proximity to chemicals they will take on their odour, effectively destroying the value of the herb or spice. Other foods may also give off odours and should be stored away from herbs and spices.
Vermin include rats and mice and is self-explanatory.
Insect infestation. Insects love food as much as we do. They thrive on warm conditions. The ones to watch out for are Ants, Pantry Moth and Drugstore Beetles. Store the herbs and spices in airtight plastic containers. Sometimes the insect eggs are present in the herb or spice when you buy them. These are harmless to us. Given a warm environment they can hatch and grow into larvae and then into a moth or a beetle. They don’t do us any harm but they are unsightly and will ultimately spoil the herbs and spices in your pantry.
The best way to manage your Culpepers Herbs and Spices is to only buy what you need as you need it. Make sure you are rotating your herbs and spices in your pantry so that you are always using the oldest stock first.
Don’t order up. Don’t stockpile. Buy it from your distributor as you need it.
Measure the herbs and spices into a bowl before adding them to your dish. This will prevent heat, and steam moisture entering the container and it will also give you greater control of how much herbs and spices you are adding to the recipe. Too much will spoil the dish and too little will be ineffective.
Where practical buy whole spices and grind them as required. Whole spice retain their flavour longer than ground and when freshly ground, just prior to application they give off their best flavour.
If the herb or spice looks discoloured or dull, rub some onto the palm of your hand. If it still gives of a desirable aroma then it’s good to go.
The government guideline for shelf life on spices is 4 years for whole and 2 years for ground.