How can I reuse or recycle … old spices?

Spices for a curry, mmm, curryNo, not the stinky 1970s aftershave but spices that have been hanging around the cupboard for a little too long.

You could say that we like spice food. You would be grossly underestimating our adoration of it though.

However, even though it’s not the correct thing to do, we have a tendency to buy spices in bulk because we’re disorganised – and even though we don’t pay that much attention to best before dates, we do notice that over time they become less potent.

So what can we do with them once they’re past their best? At the moment, we’ve got a stash of garam masala (mixed spices), turmeric and cumin (aka jeera) but any suggestions for any old herbs and spices is fine.

(Photo by LotusHead)

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12 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old spices?”


  1. Em says:

    mmmm…..
    Years ago a friend of mine decorated her rented house with white emulsion paint coloured with different spices. Chilli powder made a nice pinky colour and garamasala made a trendy neutral shade. Depends on how much you have? maybe only enough for “the smallest room in the house”?

    Cheers, Em:-)

  2. earl says:

    collect all your old bits of soap together, heat them up and add the spices. When it cools, you have lovely scented soap.

    Probably best sticking to the non-staining spices, like cumin. Tumeric soap would just yellow up your hands and face.

  3. Zoe says:

    Nothing like making hme made incense with spices, specially when you have guest comming over for dinner…

  4. Hannah Phillips says:

    I dip old clothes in vinegar (2tblspn) to one pint of water. Then mix the spice with the equivalent amount of water and warm. Remove your clothes from the vinegar and add to your spice mix and leave over night. Then remove and rinse and hey presto you have a new wardrobe without adding to global commercialisation.

  5. Amanda Kerik says:

    The ones that are hot can be dusted on plants to deter cats / insects. Birds can’t taste the “heat” in spices.

    I suppose you could compost them as well… if they’re truely flavourless.

  6. Sack36 says:

    The more colorful the spice the more brilliant the striation when you’re making sand paintings.

    • Ruti says:

      That’s good – I could use them with my pre-schooler – prit stick and spices to make pictures, then laminate to make a bookmark.

  7. AliceJ says:

    Yum, you use the same stuff I do. I also get them in bulk – I live on my own but asian shops sell them in big packets that take me ages to get through when I’m only cooking for one.

    I normally fill a small jar and then put the rest in an airtight and light-proof container. They do very good stainless steel ones in some of the shops I get the spices from. This keeps the bulk of the spice fresh while I slowly use up what’s in the small jar. Keeping the bulk packet in the freezer would also help.

    Not sure I’d want a garam masala-flavoured wardrobe… Either compost it or donate it to soup kitchens etc where they’ll use it all up quicker.

  8. Gulia says:

    Some spices like mint, rosemary can be made into fragrant sachets, or even ” Sweat Dreams” pillow.

    Place oregano in a bowl by a bad and an insomnia is gone.

  9. Gulia says:

    Combine several spices in one bag, shake it and use for brewing a healthy herbal tea. Place in boiling water and steep for 5-8 min. It can be mint, rosemary, sage, basil, bay leaf, echinacea, chamomile, ginger, cloves, rose petals, anise, etc.

  10. Nastia says:

    Some old spices are actually seeds and can be used for planting fresh spice.


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