How to bring your old spices back to life

Can you remember when you bought that cumin that's in your spice cabinet? How about those bay leaves? Or the allspice? Spices are often bought for one specific dish and then sent to the back of the shelf to languish. 

But do they expire? Do you have to worry about them going bad — or losing their flavor? 

The good news is that they aren't going to spoil and you don't have to worry about old spices making you sick if you eat them and they're past their prime (via Spiceography). However, you should be concerned about them aging and losing their potency. Take it from spice mogul McCormick, who advises that you should worry bout spices going "not good" rather than "bad" (via McCormick). 

The good news is that there is an easy way to bring back their aroma and taste, and it only takes one step.

A foolproof way to revive old spices

To revive your spices, all you have to do is to put them in a skillet on medium heat and toast them. It's most effective to use whole spices such as mustard seeds, cloves, and cardamom, but it can also aid in bringing out the flavor in ground spices as well (via The Daily Meal). 

To ensure that the spices are evenly warmed, shake the pan or stir them with a wooden spoon in order to make sure they don't burn. Spices, especially ground ones, can burn quickly, so make sure that you're only toasting and not burning. Typically, it takes somewhere between one and three minutes and you'll know they're finished because they'll give off an intense aroma. It's best to use whatever amount is called for in the recipe you are making. That way, even if you do make a mistake and cook them for too long, you will only have ruined a small amount, and you can try again.