Bravo to Salon and writer Francis Lam for tackling a question that should bug the hell out of any even half-serious home cook: How often do I need to be renewing my herbs and spices? The story is well worth reading for its meditation on volatile oils, the grind-it-yourself ethic, and the idea of having a catch-all jar of rub that becomes your dumping place for all home-ground spices not quickly used for a particular recipe. But here’s the heart of it, if you must know:

“If you buy spices from a place with high turnover so their stock is fresh, and store them cool, dark, and dry, they will keep much longer than six months.”

See also: Alton Brown’s excellent Good Eats episode “Spice Capades.” All the material of the Salon story, plus—and this is a bonus for most people—Brown’s convivial emceeing.

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