FOOD & DRINK
11/11/2014 07:00 am ET Updated Nov 15, 2014

Most Of The Items In Your Spice Rack Are Probably Expired

Chris_Elwell via Getty Images

Sugar, spice and everything nice is only so nice for a couple of months. Your spice rack may be filled with little bottles of seasoning with the power to enhance any dish on the planet, but the truth is, they can only do this for so long.

Many of us are guilty of keeping those containers of magic dust -- ubiquitous allspice, heat-inducing chili powder and please-add-it-to-everything cinnamon -- in our pantries way past their due dates.

Are you ready for it? According to Karen Page, author of The Flavor Bible (and most recently, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible), spices should be replaced every six to 12 months. When dealing with ground spices, veer on the side of a decreased shelf-life. Whole spices, like cinnamon sticks and peppercorn, will last a little longer.

An expired dash of garlic powder is unlikely to harm you, but it might hurt your dish -- the spice's vigor will be weakened, making your meal less flavorful. Page recommends replacing your spices around November and December, the holiday months where every one and their mother seems to be cooking up something in the kitchen. And if you make it a tradition, you'll remember to swap them out next year. Another tip? Don't buy the super-sized container, unless you really plan to go spice wild. You'll end up having to toss it in a couple of months.

A representative from McCormick suggests ensuring the product is tightly capped and kept away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight (don't store your spices over the stove, dishwasher, sink or near a window). You might also consider refrigerating spices that belong to the red pepper family -- like paprika and chili power. This'll help them retain color and freshness, the McCormick representative told HuffPost in an email.

The more you know. Happy spicing!

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