With the hundreds upon hundreds of spices available today, it's easy to forget about how important they were once considered to be -- black pepper was once as valuable as currency. But nowadays only a handful of spices have a place in our cupboards. We take them for granted and keep them in clear jars out on the counter, where the light kills their potency. But spices require some protection to reach their full potential in our cooking -- and it's really easy once you know how. Don't make the mistake of using ground spices or old spices that don't smell or taste of anything -- your cooking will not benefit in any way. Click through the slideshow below to learn how to buy, store, and use spices properly.
What are your favorite spices to cook with? Leave us a comment below.