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Feb 16, 2014 02:30 PM

Best way to store spices in the freezer

I finally made my way to Penzey's and came home with a boat load of various different spices. I bought larger bags of the spices I know I love and use regularly and would like to store them in the freezer and just keep a filled bottle handy on the counter. Can I just store them in a freezer bag or is there some other better way to store?

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  1. I use a large lidded plastic box with the 4 snap seal sides to store whole spices kept in a clear plastic ziplock left in a standing position sort of like a card catalog. The individual clear bags are labeled and dated and fall in alpha order.

    I use the identical box and plastic bags for spices I have ground; set up the same way that I keep in my pantry.

    So the rotation goes from shopping, to freezer, to ground, to pantry, to using up.

    While I think of it, I also freeze vanilla beans in a separate flat lidded container. Wrapped and then left in the tight sealed plastic box. And recently I froze homemade vanilla extract to see what would come of it. Due to the alcohol the extract did not freeze solid so now I use what I'll need for say a month at a time out of the pantry and keep the rest in the freezer. First I create the extract stored in the pantry and then I freeze the batches in round tight sealed containers.

    1. Which spices did you purchase? Any that would be best left boxed separately due to their wonderful and strong aroma?

      8 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        Today's haul includes -
        Extra bold peppercorns
        Granulated toasted onion powder
        Granulated garlic
        Turkish bay leaves
        Hungarian paprika
        White pepper

        I also bought a few mixes - chili seasoning, cajun seasoning, Italian herb mix. I'll likely leave these on the counter.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Nice haul! What makes a peppercorn extra bold?

          1. re: HillJ

            It's a grade of peppercorns I assume they are sold at other places other than Penzey's. The flavor is stronger and more complex, I really enjoy them when pepper is at the forefront, like for steaks, etc.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Oh okay I know these as Indian Black Peppercorns. You're right, really terrific on beef and blackened fish.

              Good choices!

          2. re: fldhkybnva

            None of those spices will really benefit by freezing.

              1. re: JMF

                Perhaps that is true if one lives in a cool climate. I live in central California where the summers are very hot. I find that paprika must be refrigerated or frozen if it is to stay bug free.

                1. re: jmnewel

                  I should have added that I've heard that peppers: chiles, paprika, etc. is one of the few that freezing works well with. Not just bugs as in your case, but quality, especially color, is better when frozen.

                  Again, freeze in small amounts, and only remove what you need. In and out of the freezer is not good.

          3. If frozen they should be vacuum packed. Otherwise they can get freezer burn, when the door opens and closes moisture can get in. I never buy more of a spice than I can use in six months, then keep them at room temp. in a sealed airtight container in a dark place.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              JMF, if you don't have a vacuum sealer wouldn't the individual bags inside a plastic box be enough protection from freezer burn? While I keep ground in the pantry, I do keep whole spice (not all but most) in the freezer and I don't notice any freezer burn.

              1. re: HillJ

                The problem is really when the spices come out and go back into the freezer. Moisture condenses in the bags/containers. If the spices are in small bags, and you only remove a bag to use/store at room temp. and it doesn't go back in the freezer, that's ok.

                But spices really don't need to be stored in the freezer. They can be fine for 1-2, even three years at room temp., depending upon whole vs. ground, etc.

                1. re: JMF

                  Okay thanks I appreciate your feedback.

            2. Glass with a metal lid is the best container regardless of storage temperature, because plastics (many if not all) are gas-permeable to one degree or another. I learned this the hard way (don't ask). I would press as much air out of the plastic spice bags as possible, then put the bags into a glass container. I would also have different containers for basic categories - sweet like cinnamon,nutmeg.... anise-y like fennel seed, coriander....
              peppery..... just in case there's any co-mingling of volatile compounds between the bags.

              6 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                I hear ya but I've had too many accidents with broken glass. Things knocking around in my large freezer (not side by side) and the point about co-mingling I def. agree with. Those strong and wonderful aromas I noted in my earlier post.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Mylar bags, like many herbal and spice companies use. Both opaque and transparent, don't pass gas... So no intermingling of flavors/aromas.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I can't count how many glass jars I've managed to throw onto the floor. It really brings a tear to my eye.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Used to happen to me too. I have a typical fridge with freezer on top. I now have three wire mesh baskets on each of the two levels of the freezer. They are pretty much divided into categories - bags of frozen veg/fruit in one, meat in another, cooked foods in another, odds and ends for soupmaking, etc. The baskets prevent avalanches and limit freezer burn since I pull out a basket and shut the door rather than having all the contents exposed to room air as I search for the target bags/containers. Little glass jars go in the freezer door.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I just loaded up my new freezer with baskets so it sounds like that was a good choice. They are stackable and I organized the main baskets by meat and then others on top - veggies, spices, sauces, etc. I refuse to let it become a black hole. I am surprised that I didn't find more mystery meats as I unloaded the freezer attached to the fridge.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I only have baskets inside the freezer, nothing on the door. No shelves or straps on the door. I have a deep horizontal freezer that has two interior levels.