Tackling this task in the Weekly Household Planner:
Discard old spices, restock
This is one of those tasks that can easily be put off and forgotten about – except when you go to use a spice that has been sitting in the cabinet much too long and ends up creating a mediocre recipe, just when you need a really yummy one.
I suggest cleaning your spice cabinet at least once a year. Keeping old spices around does nothing for your cabinet and certainly nothing for a recipe that needs a fresh boost.
First take all the spice containers out of your cabinet. Wipe down the shelf and especially any carousel or similar accessory that you have them stored on.
You will want to open the lids of the spices that you just aren’t sure about and check them for color. After awhile, green, leafy herbs will fade and red spices such as paprika, red pepper and chili powder will turn a brownish color. Make sure your herbs are still vibrant in color to ensure freshness and flavor
For ground spices, place a small amount in your palm and gently rub it with your thumb. If the aroma is not rich, full and immediate, it likely has lost its potency. For whole spices, break or crush them to release the fragrance and then scrape with a knife or grater to determine freshness.
When in doubt, throw it out: If you at all question the freshness of your spices, replace them. I for one hate throwing things out if I think they might still be good to use. I began writing the date I purchased a spice on the bottom of the container with a sharpie, just the month and year when I replaced spices. This helped me feel good about having to throw something out because I knew it was old!
The spice cabinet can end up being an area that grows on you if you do not empty it out and keep it organized. It takes just a few minutes, but can save a lot of headache later!