Herb Quality and Shelf Life
When choosing herbs it's important to understand what to look for. Dried herbs, like everything else that was once living, has a shelf life. Water equals death. Berries or other plant material with substance can mold from the smallest amount of water. It is vital that herbs are fully dried to ensure all water content has evaporated. If you live in a humid environment, you can do a few things to keep the longevity of your herbs. Vacuum sealing is one way to keep the moisture at bay for bulk herbs or for those that you don't use as often. You can purchase desiccants or silica gel packets to throw in the containers that you use all the time. Make sure the jars in which you store the herbs have a rubber gasket for an air tight seal. Another idea is to put a layer of rice on the bottom of your jars. Then, cut some cheesecloth to fit and lay that on top of the rice. Now you would put your herbs on top of the cloth.
Freshness and medicinal quality go hand in hand. Dried herbs should smell fresh and their colors should be vibrant. The older the herb, the less color and scent they have. Shelf life will depend on the type of plant but can last anywhere from 1-3 years if stored properly. The best storage is in glass jars and they should be kept in a cool and dry environment. You should avoid using plastic as storage because it may leach chemicals into your herbs. Since is it difficult to find out exact dates of harvesting, a good rule of thumb is to give them a one year expiration from when you receive them. Powdered herbs will have a shorter shelf life and should be given a 6 month expiration. The good news is that once herbs expire there are many ways in which you can still use them! Check back in later to see how!
Take good care,