Picked up pith helmet and pickaxe today, and commenced excavations in my spice cabinet.
It is a veritable museum of packaging styles, starting with today's red-lidded plastic jars, going back through glass jars, to white metal tins. I know where I lived when I bought the chervil, which makes it over 35 years old. Some mysteries spun out of the inner depths of the carousel....why do I have a tin of fennel, which I loathe? And not one but 2 newer plastic jars of cumin (for Indian recipes I settle for garam masala or curry powder instead, because I don't want to buy spices I'll rarely use, and don't cook southwestern dishes). I chucked the decades-old asefoetida and the Molly McButter, but the fennel and the tall jar of 20-yr old nutmegs - did I mention that if there's more than a pinch of nutmeg in a dish that's all I taste AND that there's also a bag of 6 nutmegs that's "only" 10 years old? - went back into the inner sanctum.
I've read all those "toss your old spices....mascara....toothbrush...etc." articles but am skeptical that these are merely manufacturers' ploys to boost sales. I think most people my age had the same toothbrush from the time our permanent teeth came in until we were paying our own rents. As long as there's still some aroma in the spice, I'll just add more when it's old. I also notice that the old stuff in the glass jars retains potency better than the plastic-jarred spices, so I'm keeping those old glass ones and transferring newer spices into these. Am I being frugal, or just inconscionably cheap and pack-ratty?