If you know how to store dry herbs properly, you can enjoy years of fresh flavor – as opposed to days.
I personally dry all my herbs because I can never seem to use up fresh herbs before they go bad. And wasting food makes me cringe.
So today, I want to talk about optimal herb storage to help you reduce waste and save moneys – all while enjoying super flavorful meals 🙂
How to Store Dried Herbs & Things to Consider
Like any other food, herbs (or really the constituents within them) break down over time. There are a few factors that accelerate that breakdown.
Eventually, all herbs will reach the end of their shelf-life, but if you keep them away from certain elements, you can extend that timeframe.
Always keep track of how long you’ve had your herbs for best results. I usually put a piece of tape on the lid of the bottle and use a Sharpie to write the date on it.
Ok, so let’s look at 4 guidelines for storing dry herbs.
Oxygen leads to breakdown over time, so it’s best to store herbs in an airtight container.
Glass jars and metal tins with screw-on lids are great as well as clamping lids. I personally avoid plastic containers because it’s really hard (impossible?) to get an airtight seal.
While direct sunlight is preferred for growing fresh herbs on your counter, it will degrade your dehydrated herbs, making them go stale faster.
When left in the sun, dried herbs lose some of their potency, which directly affects their flavor. Keep them in a closed cabinet or other dark area for best results.
Moisture is the enemy of ANY food storage and dried herbs are no different. So if you dehydrate herbs yourself, make sure that they’re are completely dry before storing them.
It’s also a good idea to check on your herbs after bottling to note if there’s any moisture in the jar. Even a single droplet can lead to mold growth, which will ruin the entire jar.
This usually isn’t an issue with store-bought spices, so in that case, just store them in a dry environment.
Last but not least, the temperature where you store your herbs makes a huge difference. You don’t have to keep them in a fridge or freezer, but storing them less than 75 degrees is best.
Room temperature is fine, but many people prefer to store them in a root cellar or a room that stays cool throughout the year.
Basically, you just want to avoid storing them near a hot stove, dryer, or anyplace where there may be steam.
Best Dried Herb Storage Containers: Glass vs Plastic
If you’re drying and storing your own herbs, you have a choice to make – glass or plastic?
Ultimately, the best storage container is one that is airtight – no matter what material that may be.
I personally prefer glass because it doesn’t take on the odor of its contents and doesn’t stain easily. It can also be easily sanitized without fear or it melting or degrading in any way.
And I always get a better, airtight seal with glass jars that have screw-top lids like mason jars.
Plastic is the cheapest option (that’s why most store-bought spices come in plastic containers). One advantage plastic has over glass is that it’s lightweight.
But that’s not going to pull me away from my pretty glass food storage obsession 😉
And with plastic, you can’t store herbs super, duper long using the trick I’m about to show you…
How to Store Herbs and Spices Long Term (Like, EXTRA Long)
If your garden produced a bumper crop of basil (or any other herb) like mind did, you might be looking at a few years worth on your hands.
Side Note: If you’ve never dried your own herbs, it’s super easy. Here are some tutorials for specific herbs. I’ll come back and add more as I get them published:
Depending on how much you have or how often you use herbs, you may need to store them longer than the typical year or two.
Most herbs from roots can last up to 2 years before breaking down. But if you come across a situation where you need to store them even longer, here’s how you can do that:
Store your dry herbs in mason jars and vacuum seal it using the vacuum sealer attachment on a vacuum sealer like the FoodSaver.
This eliminates oxygen, and you can get an even longer shelf-like by tossing in a desicant pack to prevent moisture.
These are the kind I use:
How to Store Spices in Humid Climates
If you live in a humid climate, you may struggle with clumping. I know I do here in the South!
While you can use the desicant packs mentioned above, you have a few other options.
For example, you can add a few dried beans to the container. Dried beans absorb any excess moisture, and you can change them out every few months.
You can also use rice which has the same effect. Only problem with rice is that it’s really small and easy to accidentally pour out along with the herb.
Storing Dried Herbs in the Freezer: To Do & Not To Do
While freezing certainly helps slow the breakdown of food, it’s not always the best option for dried herbs. Mostly because it’s simply not necessary.
When it comes to food preservation, you can freeze or dry (among other things). You don’t need to do both. If the herb was dried properly, there’s simply no reason to put it in the freezer as it’s already sufficiently preserved.
Now, with fresh herbs, they freeze fairly well. If you do have some spices that you keep in the freezer, use small containers and try freezing them in single servings.
If you continue to freeze and defrost the herbs, this will lead to condensation and faster spoiling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you store spices in the refrigerator?
In general, this isn’t a good idea. Storing them in the fridge usually increases the moisture content and may lead to faster spoilage.
How long can I store dry herbs?
It depends on the source of the herb. Herbs from roots can last around 2 years while herbs from seeds and barks can last 2-3 years.
Ground herbs from leaves, seeds, and bark, tend to only last a year or so.
Do dried herbs lose potency?
In general, dried herbs are stronger than the fresh herbs since they are concentrated. However, they can lose flavor over time or if not stored carefully. If you crush the herb between your fingers and you can’t immediately tell what it is by its aroma, it’s lost its potency. Check out this guide for more information on exactly how long herbs can last.
I’m a foodie that’s slightly obsessed with drying fruits, veggies, beans, and more – especially from my own garden! It started as a hobby but became a “must” when my family fell on hard times, and my dried food stash sustained us. Now I’m always experimenting with different techniques and recipes and sharing them here!