In the Kitchen With Laura, both the program and the blog post series, continue to be very popular. I really enjoy them too, so watch for more.
Today’s In the Kitchen is combining something that Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family did every year and something she probably never would have done. We’re going to clean out our spice cupboard.
Spring cleaning was an important part of pioneer culture. Every spring you’d go to war with dirt, pulling things apart, refilling and restocking things, and washing every surface you possibly can. You’d also changed things over, pulling winter insulation away from the bottom of the house, putting up mosquito netting, covering up furniture with summer dressing.
This major cleaning would often include cleaning kitchen containers, etc. but you didn’t throw things out. Once you had something you thought you had it and it should last forever. This was especially true of the pioneer and Great Depression mind set. Once you had something it should last forever and you don’t waste it. It’s like the World War II slogan, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” You hold on to things, expect them to last or be good or at least usable forever. Sadly things aren’t.
I’ve been working on breaking out of this mind set and the spice shelf is a place to do it. (Now just FYI some of these containers I just love so these, especially the Tones cans, don’t have their original spice or herb in them. I’ve dumped them out a refilled them.) While it seems like that herbs and spice should last forever, they really don’t. As time goes by they lose both flavor and color and can really negatively impact your final product.
So to do your part for kitchen spring cleaning, go through your spice shelf. Replace everything that has outlived its date whether it’s empty or not. If you have cool old cans or bottles, just empty them out and refill with the new.
|Spices, whole||1-2 years|
|Spices, ground||6 months|
|Herb/spice blends||2 years (unopened)
12 months (opened)
These dates aren’t from the manufacturers (which of course want you to do this often, so you’ll buy more), but from the University of Nebraska Extension Service that conducts independent research. Find more information about things to check in your kitchen (including a printer friendly PDF) on their website.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.