|Interesting organizational system!|
From my reading, I now know that spices have a shelf life. When I checked these, I was amazed at how long I had some of them. I got this tin of whole nutmeg from my dear friend Jeanette when she was moving from Ohio to Florida in 1978! I know it was hers because I recognize her handwriting on the top.
Some sources say that after a year a spice has lost its potency and should be replaced. Those are probably mostly folks who sell spices! The other rule of thumb is to check for aroma. If the spice still smells, well... spicy, it should be usable. But I think that is the technique when using spice to flavor food. I'm not sure how to gage the potency of spice for health and healing purposes. If any of you have any information or thoughts about that, please share.
Most supermarkets have a good selection of the commonly used spices. There are excellent Internet resources as well. Many of my friends recommend Penzeys but I have never tried them. I wanted to buy fresh spice in small quantities because I am experimenting with new flavors and different heats that I may or may not like. And if I am going to err on the side of freshness, small amounts are better.
I found a perfectly wonderful source right here in Dayton. One of the Five Rivers MetroParks' Urban Parks is the Second Street Market. The market operates in an historic block-long 1911 former B&O railroad building. It was saved from demolition and renovated in 2001and houses an assortment of vendors for prepared foods, meat and produce, fresh flowers, and arts and crafts. One of the shops is The Spice Rack.
The Spice Rack has a wide assortment of spices in small containers with larger amounts readily available. They also sell organic flours and grains, Amish butter and cheeses, beautiful colored sugars, and honey. I'd stopped here many times to buy local honey to help ward off seasonal allergies but am now a confirmed spice shopper as well.
I was interested in turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin. The shop owner, Homer, and his lovely assistant Shannon helped me find everything I needed. This is definitely my new go-to place for spices!
The atmosphere on Saturdays at Second Street Market is festive and relaxed. I had a delicious Thai omelet for lunch, saw many friends and acquaintances, and in addition to my spices got beautiful artisan bread, fresh kale, and a green plant to take home for a promise of spring.
My next task is to purge my spice cupboard and label my spices with date of purchase. In the meantime, because they are so pretty, my fresh spices are residing on a shelf in my kitchen. They are tucked among some plants and some favorite things, reminding me of the beauty of life and the joy of treating my body well.