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Quality and storing spices?

I bought the Kroger brand garlic powder about 7 months ago. When I sprinkled it on french bread (a few weeks ago) there was very little to no garlic flavor. So, does the brand of garlic powder really matter, or could it be because it was stored in my pantry that it lost it's flavor? Would a more expensive brand retain it's flavor longer?

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  1. How much did you buy and how was it stored?

    1 Reply
    1. re: sr44

      It's a 2oz bottle, and it was capped tightly, in a drawer.

    2. I definitely believe brand affects quality.

      However I am also notorious for storing spices WAY past what any good foodie would recommend. Actually I am not notorious. I do my best to keep it my deep dark secret.

      I try to throw spices away after a few years. But I don't even always make that goal. I am trying to mature and buy less so I can replace it more often. But that is not always convenient. Nor cheap. I'd like to buy in bulk to make it more affordable, but there are no bulk spice selling stores convenient to me.

      1. I haven't tested this notion, but my own sense is that garlic powder cannot be a long-lasting ingredient, regardless of brand. I wouldn't expect it to have much character even a month or two after opening, although I myself have some in my spice rack that is much older. I only use garlic powder in certain Cajun/Creole preparations.

        If you're not averse to working with fresh garlic, consider toasting/broiling the bread with butter and salt and then scraping a halved clove of garlic on the surface at the last minute. If doing more than 4 or so slices, use another clove or slice away some of the initial clove's cut edge, to expose fresh garlic oils. That's good stuff.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Bada Bing

          Good ideas Baba Bing.

          I also buy these roasted garlic flakes (I think they are called gold nuggets?) and keep them in the fridge (they are shelf stable, but I, perhaps mistakenly, think they will keep longer in fridge).

          And I love the frozen minced garlic.

          And I roast several whole garlic bulbs at once and squeeze them into a container and store them in the freezer. Cut of chunks as needed.

          But I hate handling raw garlic.

          1. re: alegramarcel

            I'll have to look into these garlic flakes. But about fresh garlic: if you hate handling it because of smells on your hands, take note of the surprising effectiveness of using stainless steel in washing your hands (for me, the faucet and the water handle are easiest to use). One story about this:


            1. re: Bada Bing

              This actually works. A place I used to frequent for boiled seafood had this at the hand washing station: http://www.shopatdean.com/store/pc/Fo...

          2. re: Bada Bing

            agree with Bada Bing plus some:
            imho, there is no way that garlic can be processed into garlic powder and retain all the garlic flavors.
            additionally, when you get the garlic powder from a source like krogers, well. . ..
            if you insist on using garlic powder, at the very least get it from penzey's.

            1. re: westsidegal

              I've had a bottle of McCormick garlic powder on my spice rack for at least 6 months. I use it rarely, but just sprinkled some on the focaccia I made last night and it was POTENT. I dusted it so lightly and the bread has a wonderful garlic flavor. I'm actually eating some right now.

              So I don't know if it's the brand OP used, but IME garlic powder shouldn't lose its flavor that quickly.

              I use garlic SALT often and can vouch that that stuff takes years to lose its potency.

              And in case anyone's wondering why all the faux-garlic in my house, raw garlic gives me awful heartburn so I eat it sparingly.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I was thinking about getting some at Penzey's. I have no problem paying more for a good spice but I'd like it to last longer if I pay more. I just may be asking for too much out of a garlic powder! Nutmeg and cinnamon are two spices where I can tell there is a distinctive difference by quality. But because I don't use them regularly, I store them in a ziplock bag and refrigerate them.

              2. re: Bada Bing

                The reason I don't work with fresh garlic the way you described is because the fresh is a bit too garlicky for me. I actually like using the fresh minced that comes in a jar. But the shelf life is very short.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  No, the loaf was hot when I bought it. I used it within hours, so it was very fresh.

                2. I don't think I've come across garlic powder before but assume it'd act like other spices, etc. I would doubt that a more expensive product would last longer, although I suppose a cheaper one may have already been stored for sometime (although I have no idea whether that would be the case).

                  I stick pretty rigidly to the "use by" dates on the jar and have a twice yearly throwing out session of anything that's gone past the date. Wasteful - yes, probably. But spices are cheap.

                  1. This is kind of a tangent, but: for those who use garlic powder often (which I don't), do you feel that it is really much like garlic, or is it a separate kind of thing all its own? When I smell my admittedly old garlic powder, it bears only something like a "family resemblance" to fresh garlic.

                    I do find it useful in Cajun/Creole cooking: it's handy to mix it with other spices so thoroughly without risk of burning and without introducing moisture, as when cooking in oil in preparation for making a roux.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      Garlic powder is definitely different in flavor from fresh garlic.

                    2. I don't use garlic powder often but have found a big difference between brands and potency.
                      I've been buying garlic gold's nuggets and oils and they stay very flavorful for at least six months- i haven't had any around longer than that :) and of course store the garlic oil in the fridge

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        I've never heard of garlic oil. Is it more potent than fresh garlic?

                      2. To me, and especially my wife, the best garlic bread is made by toasting your bread and then rubbing the crunchy side with a fresh garlic clove that has been cut in half.

                        Better yet...toast both sides of the bread and get them both garlicky with the fresh clove.

                        1. I dislike the penzye's prices, his politics, but severely admire the man for trying to make a business out of the old Northridge mall that the local politicans destroyed (ok, politics off).

                          I often buy in bulk from a local farmer or a trusted Asian store when there is a "deal". I have a dehydrator, depending on the spice/veggie they are dried, vacuum sealed in monthly amounts in a bag. Far cheaper (esp when talking about dried tomatoes), and they seem to last a very long time. When doing garlic, I also run lots through a powerful blender with just enough water to make a slush. Putting the slush into a mini-ice cube tray, freezing, than vacuum sealing the next day to avoid freezer burn. Great for adding to soups/etc. some regular ice cube trays also make for great soups at work when you mix a cube with just water and nuke.

                          1. If you buy dried herbs and ground spices from a food store, they may have been on the shelf a long time and lost something before you even take them home.

                            I'm a devotee of Penzey's products, which always seem to be fresh as well as high quality. Some I've had for more than a year and they're still usable. If there's one of their stores near you, it's easy to stock up. Or you can order by mail or online:


                            1. When it comes to spices and other flavorings, buy as whole as possible.

                              Store small amounts in glass or freeze. Grate, chop and grind as needed.

                              The junk found "retail" is old and over-priced IMHO.