There is nothing more irritating than having all of your ingredients ready to cook, spices selected from the spice rack, only to find that your spices have clumped together in the jar. This can be especially true if you live in a humid climate. You might try to scrape the spices you need from the clump or use a fork to break it up in the moment but there are some foolproof ways to prevent clumping in the first place.
You can keep spices from clumping together by storing them in airtight jars, in cool, dry conditions such as a dark cupboard or pantry. An alternative option is to add uncooked beans, food-safe silica packets, or rice to your spice shakers which will prevent clumping by absorbing any moisture.
When you have found your spices clumped together, it may raise questions around whether those spices are still safe to eat and why clumping happens in the first place. Along with airtight storage, there are a few other methods to keep your spices from clumping.
What Causes Spices to Clump Together?
There are a few reasons why you might reach into your spice cupboard only to find your spices stuck together in a large, hardened clump. One of the main reasons is exposure to external air and clumping becomes more likely if that air is humid. The other reasons are time and gravity. The longer your spices sit in one position with any exposure to the external air, the greater the chance of finding it in a large clump the next time you go to use it.
You might be wondering if spices expire and if they can make you sick, we have a full article dedicated to answering those questions, check it out by clicking the highlighted text.
Are Humid Climates More Susceptible to Clumping Spices?
Spices are more susceptible to clumping in humid climates due to the presence of moisture creating a bond between the individually ground spice particles, resulting in a large clump. While the overall climate of your location can affect the risk of your spices clumping together, so can humid climates within your kitchen.
It is easy to get carried away in the moment and shake your spices over a steaming pot of food or over your freshly prepared hot meal however, this steam travels upward into your spice shakers, introducing moisture into the container, resulting in clumps. It is better to use a spoon to remove your spices from the jar to avoid the risk of steam interacting with your spices.
Are Clumped Spices Safe to Eat?
Clumped spices are typically safe to eat however, there are a few things to consider before consumption. Because the presence of moisture can be conducive to mold growth, spices are at risk of becoming moldy. If your spices are moldy, they should be discarded as they become carcinogenic to ingest.
You should also consider how old your spices are as clumping can indicate that they have been sitting awhile, in which case, they are still technically safe for consumption but they may have noticeably lost their flavor, aroma, and potency which can impact the quality of your dishes.
The Best Way to Absorb Moisture from Spices
There are a few ways to absorb moisture from your spices:
- Adding uncooked beans or rice to your spice shakers (absorbs moisture and physically breaks up clumps when shaken).
- Adding food-safe silica packets to your spice jars.
- Blending clumped spices in a spice mill or food processor can help moisture dissipate.
Whichever method you choose, the key is to lessen exposure to humidity and moisture in the surrounding environment where your spices are stored.
Proper Storage is Critical to Prevent Spices from Clumping
Preventing moisture from getting into your spice jars by storing them in a cool, dark, and dry place is key to lengthening the shelf-life and preventing the clumping of your spices. Kitchens by nature can be more humid than the rest of the house with water from the kitchen sink, dishwashers running, or steam from a boiling pot of soup.
The key is to store spices away from where this humidity can get to them and getting in the habit of not shaking your spices over steaming hot food. Another trick is to store your spice jars upside down, which lessens the air gap in the jar where moisture can enter through the lid to where the product is within the jar.
It can feel frustrating and wasteful to discover your spices clumped together at the bottom of the jar but there are ways to prevent this clumping from happening. The key thing to keep in mind is that humidity and moisture are the bane of spices and preventing these will keep your spices clump-free.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.