Have you seen an expiry date on a spice jar? It's a rare thing. So we've crafted this handy guide to help you determine when to toss. It's a 3-part test based on colour, aroma and shelf life:
Ground Spices 2-3 years
Seasoning Blends 1-3 years
Herbs 1-2 years
Seeds 4 years
Extracts 4 years
Whole Spices up to 4 years(whole peppercorn, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks , cloves, cumin and cardamom can stand the test of time)
If you aren't sure how long a jar has been in your cupboard, try testing the colour or aroma. The colour of your spices should be vibrant, so if the colour has faded, chances are the flavor has to. Now pop open the lid and have a sniff, or try rubbing or crushing the spice in your hand. If the aroma is weak and flavor is not apparent, it is time to replace. Keep in mind that herbs and spices do not spoil, they simply lose their strength. So if a ground spice has some fragrance left, but less than you think it should, just use more in your recipe. Then you'll run out faster and have a reason to procure a new batch.
Finally, storage plays a role in maintaining potency, so be sure to store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Try not to store jars near the heat of the stove, close to the humidity of a dishwasher, in the bright sun or in the freezer where condensation can be an issue. Similarly, try not to shake spices out of the jar directly above your pot on the stove, as that's a sneaky way to let unwanted steam in.