Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
You Couldn’t Possibly Be Outdated -
Author Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s
Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day,
Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers
and websites. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.
Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier. The bonus is it often leads to saving money.
Lea Schneider's kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.
Check out all of Lea Schneider's helpful home and kitchen columns at
Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.
Clearly you must be kidding - I can’t possibly be out-of-date:
While not necessarily a spring
chicken, I do try to have my hair in a stylish cut. My hairdresser
has promised she’ll never allow me to look as if I am wearing a
well-sprayed football helmet. I’ve shrugged on the latest in
boyfriend sweaters, thus labeled and gifted to me by my New York
City fashionista daughter. This is the same daughter who purged all
the “mom” jeans out of my closet.
So how in the world can I be so out of date?
McCormick, the famous spice company
caught me in the act. In ads they have been running in magazines,
they ask “Do you know the signs of aging?”
Featuring familiar looking containers,
the ads ask if you have any out-of-date spices in your cabinet.
Being the Queen of Purge, I assured myself that I couldn’t possibly
have out-of-date spices.
Boy, did I have out-of-date spices. I
even had dreadfully-old-you-should-be-ashamed spices.
Here’s what to look for:
of rectangle tin from McCormick, except for black
pepper, is over 15 years old. If your McCormick glass
jar label reads "Baltimore, Maryland," then the jar is
over 15 years old.
Rectangle Metal Canisters:
If you have a McCormick
rectangle metal canister, that is ANY spice except black
pepper, then it is at least 15 years old, according the
My sinfully old canister is Cream of
Tartar. My true confession is that it is a meringue
ingredient, something I have never mastered to my
satisfaction, thus the reason behind my ignoring the
aging canister of Cream of Tartar.
If you have a glass bottle of
McCormick spices and it says “Baltimore, Maryland,” then
it is at least 15 years old.
My culprit is sage leaves.
Now that I look at the bottle, let me clarify. Mine is
Dalmatian Sage Leaves. I didn’t even know I owned
something named Dalmatian Sage Leaves. My true
confession in this case isn’t too bad. I love to garden
and keep herb containers out-of-doors. If I want sage,
I’ll grab fresh. That old sage? It is so old it
pre-dates my interest in gardening!
Time to head to the spice cabinet for some organizing:
As you weed out old spices, make a shopping list. Choose the
smallest available spice amount sold so that you can use it up
before it expires.
Remove any McCormick rectangle
metal tins, except black pepper. All of those are at least 15
Remove any McCormick bottles that
read “Baltimore, Maryland.” Those are at least 15 years old.
Examine bottoms of cans and
bottles for sell-by dates and use-by dates. If it is past the
use-by date, out it goes. If it is past the sell-by date, out it
goes if it is over a year old.
Missing dates on cans? Missing
labels? Ask yourself what you last made with that spice. If you
can’t remember, then out it goes.
Anything in question: Open the
container and smell the spice. See if it smells and looks fresh.
If it doesn’t bring you that wonderful spicy scent, it isn’t
going to add that wonderful flavor to your dish.
Time to Label:
Go green! Repurpose the expired jars. Use the clean jars to hold smaller amounts of spices that come are sold in tiny
bags that don't seal. Label and add a date.
For the spices that you keep, grab a
permanent marker and label them on the top 2/08. This will make it
really easy the next time you clean the spice cabinet. Keep the
marker in the spice cabinet to mark new purchases.
When replacing spices, you should buy
the very tiniest of containers available. Unless it is something you
use daily, like salt and black pepper, then you might not use it up
while it is fresh and flavorful.
Next month, this organizing column
will look at ways to organize those spices you do wish to keep.
Until then, I’ll be busy pumping up my Reeboks and learning to do
the Macarena. How dare anyone say I’m out-of-date!