By May 25, 2012 Read More →

Survival Spices – What to Store and How to Use

spicesWith all the blubber about what to pack in your BOB, or what to store in your food storage pantry, or what not to pack or store blah blah blah, have you ever thought about what spices would be smart to have?  Should we store spices that have a lot of smell or should we store spices that don’t have any smells to them such as salt and pepper?  My answer….BOTH!

When people think of spices, they don’t often wonder if spices go bad or lose their flavor. The answer is, yes, they do.  Spices that have been in the pantry for 5 years won’t make you sick, but will just lose their zest.  The best way to store spices is in air tight containers, preferably a dark container and in cool spaces away from moisture such as a stove or sink.  Even in doing this, most of your ground spices only last about 2 years. (Whole spices about 3-4 years)  To tell if your spices are still good, simply pour a little in your hand and examine it!  Is the color as it should be?  Pinch a little of it in your fingers. Is the aroma strong? Then taste a bit of it.  Is the flavor strong or weak?  If the color, flavor, and smell are weak then it is time to use them, or toss them.

Tip: When adding spices to a dish, avoid sprinkling it from the bottle it came in. This will cause moisture from the steam to seep into you spice container shortening its life, taking away from the flavor and it might even cause your spice to cake around the top.

Some smelly spices off the top of my head are curry, Indian spice, chili peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, ginger, and the list goes on from there.  So naturally, if you don’t want to be detected then you wouldn’t cook with these!!  However, each of these spices is wonderful to have in storage for their flavor value as well as their medicinal values.  (Especially the cayenne, curry and garlic) If you don’t want anyone to smell what you’re cooking then stick with salt and black pepper.

Some of the most obvious spices to add to your long term food storage would be salt/season salt, (tons of salt because it can be used for multiple things) black pepper, (preferably not ground as the peppercorns tend to last longer in storage) garlic, onion powder/flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and a few herbs like oregano or parsley.  I don’t recall ever having made a meal where I added these and the dish turned out bad.  I had some extremely spicy chili once, but I’m not complaining. :)

Some of these can be bulky to add to a BOB.  Well, I have a solution. We have our own house seasoning that we mix up that is great for at home or storage.  After I make up a batch of this, I will use an old empty spice bottle, usually one of the smaller ones that hold nutmeg or curry powder, (washing it out well of course) and pour some into it.  These dont take up a lot of space in the BOB, and aren’t heavy at all.  Below is the recipe I picked up from somewhere, please feel free to try it.  I love it because it eliminates me having to pour from 3 containers while I am cooking.

House Seasoning:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder

That is it!!  It’s easy to make and easy to use for everyone in the home.  If you want to add a little kick to it, use 1/2 cup salt and a 1/2 cup Cajun seasoning verses 1 cup salt. Mmmm mmm mmmm, yuummy!!

I am a HUGE fan of McCormick Spices (The line with the black lids), and if you haven’t tried them yet please do so!  I stock up on their Roasted Garlic and Herb, (6 pack) their Chicken Seasoning, (2 pack) and their steak seasonings.  They also have fabulous meat rubs for grilling and packages for things like slow cookers and baked dishes.  All great for food storage!  A lot of what we store, we buy at Sam’s or at Emergency Essentials. They have the number ten cans of spices for food storage at VERY reasonable prices.

Don’t forget those free spices either.  Any time you get fast food you can ask for extra salt and pepper packets and start a box up of these.  They are light weight and great for the BOB.

There are many other spices you can add to your pantry to.  The choice is really yours because only you know what you cook with and what your family likes.  For those of you who can’t have salt, Mrs. Dash carries a wonderful line of salt free spices and herbs.  While oregano oil isn’t technically a spice, it is great on other things like foot fungus on contact and when made into a gel will cure stomach flu’s. Some not so common ones would be, curry, beef/chicken bouillon, fish seasonings or batter, (Don’t forget oil to fry it in) Rosemary is great on all meats, shake and bake, Tarragon, coriander, fennel, the list can go on and on.

The most important thing to remember about storing your spices is that powdered spices go bad way faster than whole spices.  Whole spices can actually be grown so storing the seeds is a great idea to.  Another thought about the packed seasonings that you buy in the store is that they often contain a lot of salt, so if water is low, it might not be a great idea to use those spices verses fresh.

Fun Fact: On a different note, a little bit of history.  Should we go into a depression or a TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) so to speak, spices will be worth as much as gold in the barter system.  (Especially salt) The new world was actually discovered by Christopher Columbus because he was looking for a faster trade route to the Indian spice market. The Roman Soldiers, at times, were actually paid in salt because back then salt could be traded for anything so it was often considered currency.  That is where the term salary comes from and why they were often referred to as “worth their weight in salt.”

That’s all I have on Survival salt at this time folks, so please feel free to add any ideas or comments you have on the subject to.  I LOVE feedback and discussions on any subject I write about!  Below is one of my favorite recipes for salmon, if you’re interested!

Keepin it Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal!

Please Visit My Store: Jalapeño Gal’s Survival Surplus

More articles on preparedness

Grilled Firey 5 Pepper Salmon (by McCormick)

A quick and easy recipe for summertime grilling – perfect for a weekday dinner when time is short.  Great on salmon as well as shrimp kabobs.

Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 14 minutes

1 pound salmon fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon McCormick® Grill Mates® Fiery 5 Pepper Seasoning

1. Brush salmon with oil. Sprinkle with Seasoning.

2. Grill over medium-high heat 6 to 7 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Test Kitchen Tip: For some sweet heat, add 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar to Seasoning. Continue as directed.

Grilled Fiery 5 Pepper Shrimp Kabobs: Toss 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, with oil and Seasoning. Thread onto skewers. Grill shrimp kabobs over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, turning frequently.

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About the Author:

Cari is an editor and author for American Preppers Network. Her family currently live in Georgia. Cari spends her free time gardening, canning, testing products for review, helping others prepare and going to the gym. She believes preparedness is about love and taking care of your family. Cari also has her own website where she shares all of her preparedness articles and her recipes for canning, dehydrating, juicing, basic cooking. To have a look and hopefully follow her: Click Here! Please Join My New Blog!

8 Comments on "Survival Spices – What to Store and How to Use"

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  1. what exactly do you mean by “read more dishes” If by that you mean more articles, if you click on my name right under my picture it will take you to all the articles I have written and then at the bottom there are more. There are also categories at the top you can click on.


  2. indyprepper says:

    I just found a lady who sells spices in small mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. She only charges $2.50 per 1-2 ounce packet. She said they will last forever. I checked the amount spices in the bottles in my pantry and this sounds unbelievealby well priced. What do you think? I think I will be loading up on these. They are flat and look like they will be easy to store.

  3. I would love it if you would share a link for this! It sounds fantastic and like a very good idea on her part. I know for me, I would much rather have a flat mylar bag of spice as opposed to bulky bottles. i wish I had thought of this lol. You might check on pricing for the small mylar bags in bulk. You could save some money if you just purchased the bags yourself and then when you buy your spices just put half in the bag and seal it up. We buy our spices at Sam’s so we always have a ton more than we need, so that solution would be wonderful. :)

    • The lady that I was purchasing these spices has retired do to health reasons. She basically gave the company to me, giving me all her contacts and information. I am not an advertiser on this site yet, but the address is

      I have contacted APN to advertise but completed this yet. I am not sure if they will have to delete this or nor.

  4. Dan P says:

    I’m looking at storing a 50 lb bag of water softener salt.  I know it doesn’t have the added iodine but is there any reason it can not be used in recipes, for general seasoning, or for canning and food preservation?

    Thanks in advance  

  5. Jalapeno Gal says:

    @ dan P. I have not ever been asked that but I don’t see why not. We use it in our water and we drink our water, however, I would strongly suggest calling the company and asking first if its ok. I wouldn’t want you to get hurt or sick. I tried to find an answer online but couldn’t find anything on consumption as a spice.


  6. Dan P says:

    Thanks for the feed back JG.  I didn’t have any luck looking on-line either but didn’t consider contacting the manufacture(s) directly.  I’ll query a few sources and submit my replies if I get any feedback.

    Dan P