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A Guide to the Best Spice Containers: Glass Vs. Plastic
Are you trying to decide if glass or plastic is the best option for storing your spices, herbs and seasonings? Here we look at the pros and cons of both materials to help you make an informed choice on which spice containers will work best for your needs.
What Are the pros and cons of glass containers?
Glass containers are preferred over plastic by many due to their ability to endure extreme temperatures. It also proves easy to clean and may be easily disinfected between uses.
But even more important is that glass seals tightly and keeps your seasonings fresh longer. In fact, most chefs prefer glass containers for their most valuable spices for that reason.
However, glass is prone to breakage, making it an unsuitable choice if you are clumsy or have children helping in the kitchen. Consider the usage and time of storage when choosing glass over plastic for your spice containers.
What are the pros and cons of plastic containers?
Some consider plastic containers as a viable alternative to glass for storing your spices and herbs. They are more durable, lighter, and less apt to break if dropped.
However, plastic is usually less transparent than glass, making it a little bit more difficult to know when its contents need replacing.
Another consideration is that plastic tends to be porous, allowing your delicious spices to lose their flavors and aromas more quickly. Additionally, some people worry about toxins leaching into the food from certain types of plastics over time due to their porous nature.
The Verdict? Which are the best spice containers?
According to experts, including earth911.com Glass is much safer and sanitary than plastic. As a bonus, it’s also much better for our environment!
Glass is non-toxic, free from potentially harmful chemicals and generally not associated with a negative impact to your health. It is less porous than plastic. It also has a high resistance to leeching into your product even when contained for long periods of time.– thecarrycompany.com
How often should you refresh your spices?
Buying in bulk allows for quite a few savings for spices you use frequently. However, since they do have a limited lifespan, you need to plan for the amount you will use. Spices that are used only once or twice a year might best be kept in small amounts.
Generally, ground spices should be replaced every 6-12 months, while whole spices will last up to two years or longer. As stated before, storing in glass preserves your spices for longer than cheaper plastic.
Keeping your spices fresh is important, not just for taste and aroma. It also provides health benefits. Many spices contain anti-microbial and antiseptic ingredients that help keep foods from spoiling quickly.
For the best outcomes, ensure you store spices in airtight containers, preferably glass. And keep them away from heat sources like an oven or stovetop to extend their shelf life.
Shelf Life of Spices
Generally speaking, the less processed a spice is, the longer it will be usable and retain freshness. Keeping spices whole and then grinding for each use provides the longest shelf life.
Herbs that might last from 1 to 3 years include the following when dried:
- Bay Leaves
Ground Spices or Powdered Spices often last 2-3 years
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
- Powdered Ginger
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Turmeric
- Ground Cardamom
- Ground Paprika
- Ground Allspice
- Ground seasoning blends
Whole spices might last up to 4 years, if stored properly.
- Coriander Seeds
- Mustard Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Whole Peppercorns
- Cumin Seeds
- Caraway Seeds
- Whole Nutmeg
- Whole Cloves
- Whole Dried Chili Peppers
You mention Peppercorns….What about Salt?
Salt is an exception. It’s said to last nearly indefinitely, regardless of the grind (course,or fine) However, if it’s blended with another seasoning, the extra seasoning might lose it’s flavor over time.
Another Interesting Fact About Salt:
Ordinary salt is often used as a food preservative. That’s right, salt actually inhibits bacteria growth and dehydrates, helping to prevent spoilage. This method of food preservation goes back as far as the early Egyptians.
Tips for Labeling and Date-Stamping Containers for Easy Identification?
If you have ever grabbed a spice with an unreadable label and tried to guess the contents, you understand the need for good labels. No one wants to add a teaspoon of cinnamon only to discover that it is actually chili powder!
For easy retrieval and identification, clearly label your containers with the type/name of the spice or herb, along with the date you purchased or opened it. I usually use a permanent marker to write names and dates. Recently, I’ve started using the newer chalkboard-style labels. These are erasable and can be removed, too. However, they do tend to smudge if you accidentally rub them.
Some people include expiration dates on their labels to remind them when it time to replace stale spices. I tend to use the purchase date. Either way works. Choose the one that is best for you.
Which Spice Containers Do You Use?
We have switched all of ours to glass. But a few still remain in the container they came in. Sometimes it just makes sense. What are your favorite spices? Please leave us a comment below–we like to hear from you!
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