life of spice

by KalaLea on February 14, 2017 • Posted in News

There was a time when spices were one of the most valuable and traded commodities in the world. As far back as 3500 B.C. Egyptians used multiple spices when preparing fish, game or grains. Spices were also used for healing various ailments and illnesses. For example the paste of coriander seeds was massaged into stiff or painful limbs to provide relief. I’ve also read that coriander was considered an aphrodisiac. Oh la la. ♥


During the Middle Ages (5th to 15th Centuries), the spice trade was an integral part of the European economy and the driving force behind colonization in some parts of Asia and throughout India. Spices were also used to ward off funk AND mask the flavor of nearly rotten food. Remember commercial deodorant didn’t exist and refrigeration would not be invented for another few centuries.

This week I refilled my spice jars (with the help of a dear friend). Typically most ground spices are good for 1-2 years. Many whole or seed spices retain their potency for 3-4 years. I rarely find myself with old or unused spices, with the exception of anise. It’s my least favorite.

Color and smell are two indicators of potency. Try the smell test by grabbing a pinch then rub the spice (or herb) between your fingers to experience the fragrancy. If the aroma is strong, great! If weak, you don’t need to discard it but you may want to double the dosage when a recipe calls for it. Of course, there are exceptions.


Below is the average shelf life of many common spices,  courtesy of a well-known American spice company:

  • Ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric): 2 to 3 years
  • Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley): 1 to 3 years
  • Seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
  • Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks): 4 years
  • Seeds: 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)
  • Extracts: 4 years (except for vanilla, which will last forever)

It’s best to store any spices in a cool and dark areas of your home. Never near the oven.
Red pepper flakes, chili powder and paprika can be stored in the refrigerator for increased shelf life.

As mealtime approaches, I listen to my taste buds to decide what I’ll eat. I rarely have a fully formed planned but if I start by boiling water, the ideas generally flow. Food with flavor excites me so I often experiment with various spices from:

  • INDIA (cumin, garam masala, turmeric, coriander)
  • SOUTH AMERICA & the CARIBBEAN (allspice, chilies, peppers, cilantro)
  • MEDITERRANEAN (oregano, basil, dill, fennel, garlic)
  • EUROPE (rosemary, celery seed, caraway seed, paprika)
  • AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mustard seeds, tamarind), and
  • ASIA (lemongrass, five-spices, anise, ginger, wasabi)

NOTE: You can always add but it’s tough to subtract. If you’re not using a recipe, add a little pinch at a time then taste and add more spices little by little.

I usually add salt and/or black pepper at the very end. Salt can mask the natural flavors of many ingredients. Besides, there is so much added salt in everything we eat so I never worry about getting an insufficient amount of sodium. For those who buy spice blends, be sure to read the nutritional label and avoid any preservatives, colorants or suspicious ingredients.

When I cook, I turn on music, usually something upbeat. My favorite cooking songs are (scroll down):


As by Stevie Wonder
Don’t Ask Me Why by Billy Joel
Ritual Union by Little Dragon
I Will Die for You by Prince
Bad Girl by Donna Summer
Human Behavior by Bjork
Lithium by Nirvana
Hot Thing by Talib Kweli
Melody of a Certain Three by Blonde Redhead
Umi Says by Mos Def
Beast of No Nation by Fela Kuti
Love to Love You Baby by Donna Summer
That’s Alright by Laura Mvula
The Lung by Hiatus Kaiyote
Conrad Tokyo by A Tribe Called Quest

For more spice info, click here:

Thanks as always for reading.

Only one person completed last week’s health survey:( and she is a good friend (thx SB). My first fellowship presentation is less than two weeks away and I’m not sure what I’m doing anymore. I’m honestly thinking of shelving WDIET again until I identify some of the problems I’m helping to solve. A target group of people who eat is much too large of a market. Therefore, I’m reaching out to anyone who has dealt with chronic disease or illness, such as diabetes, obesity, fibromyalgia. Here’s a new survey just in case. It’s only 4 questions and will take 3 min. Until next time, sending hugs!

Check out this week’s action list for Americans of Conscience by Jen Hofmann.


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  1. danel

    Thanks KalaLea – I have been experimenting with spices in my teas and also using
    the spices as my tea.

    Blessings & Hugs,

  2. KalaLea

    Hi Danel,

    Thanks for writing. Send one of your favorite tea recipes or two and I’ll share on this site, if it’s okay with you..?

    Hope you’re all well! Big Hug :)

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