If you want to get the most shelf life from your spices and have them give you optimum flavor, where your store them is critical. Often cooks like to have spices in the cabinets closest to their stove so that they can quickly reach in and grab what’s needed while keeping a close eye on what’s cooking on the stove. While this is certainly convenient, it is not the best place to keep them. This is because spices and herbs will begin to break down when exposed to the moisture and heat from the stove.
Another common location for kitchen spices is in a spice rack on the counter. Again, not a good thing for the spices if the rack gets any direct sunlight.
What about keeping them in either the fridge or the freezer? Well, every time you take them out they have to warm to room temperature. Or when they were first added to the fridge they had to “cool down”. These temperature changes often cause the spices to pick up moisture and condensation. Both will shorten the life of your spices. You should also be aware that temperature fluctuations may cause unwanted condensation, and possibly mold.
The ideal storage temperature for your spices and herbs is one that remains fairly constant and right around 70° F. So, for optimum flavor and shelf life you should store these away from the heat of the stove, heaters, or the direct sunlight. If you have a pantry that is dark most of the time this is your best alternative. Some folks prefer amber glass jars with airtight lids to keep the moisture out.
As a final word of caution on condensation build-up, be aware of how you use your spices around the stove. Don’t shake directly into a pot or pan over direct heat as the moisture goes right into the bottle. It is better to shake the amount you want to add into the palm of your hand and then add that to the pot or pan.