When I go shopping, I grab the milk with the farthest out expiration date. Yes, I'm that girl who will look through all the milks in the case to find the best one! As a singleton, I have to be! Milk (and everything else for that matter) is expensive so I need to make sure I get the full shelf life out of what I buy! But... When I was in middle school, I had a teacher who scared the heck out of me with a story about botulism. For that reason, I date salsa and anything else that doesn't have "best by" or "sell by" date on it and throw it away if it's old. I never thought to even look at spices in my cabinet...

My kitchen in my old place was pretty big, but now I'm in a galley style kitchen so I've had to downsize. The biggest problem I ran into was my spice cabinet! I had A LOT of stuff!! When I mentioned this to my mom the other night she told me to take a look at the dates on my spices because she bet (and she was right) that a lot of them were out of date.  I went through my cabinet and found a bunch of spices that were REALLY old! I was mortified!

While old spices don't really "go bad" and won't make you sick, they are far less potent for cooking. According to McCormick's website, here are some guidelines for spices without a "best by" date:

General Shelf Life
• Ground Spices - 3 to 4 years
• Whole Spices - 4 years
• Leafy Herbs - 1 to 3 years
• Bottled Seasoning Blends - 1 to 2 years
• Extracts (Except Pure Vanilla) & Food Colors - 4 years
• Pure Vanilla - indefinitely
• Recipe Mixes (gravy, taco, etc.) - 2 years
• Marinades and Sauces - 12 to 24 months
• Seafood Box Mixes - 18 to 24 months

Storage Tips
• Store herbs and spices in a tightly capped container.
• Keep spices and herbs away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight. Avoid storing over the stove, dishwasher, sink or neat a window.
• Store members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, in the refrigerator to retain their color and freshness.
• Freezing does not extend the shelf life of dried herbs and spices. Repeatedly removing the bottles may cause condensation to form and accelerate the loss of flavor and aroma.

I can't be the only one who's found this in their spice cabinet! What's the oldest spice you found in your cabinet?!