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How to Store Cumin


A close look at a pile of powdered cumin.

Have you ever noticed that completely recognizable smell of chili or taco meat? The spice you are smelling is cumin. It is a little spicy and earthy. Cumin seeds can be toasted, and ground then added to food to give it a little kick.

If you love the smell and taste of cumin as much as I do, it is essential to know just how long it will last. Continue reading this article to find how to store cumin, so it will last as long as possible. 

Related: Types of Cumin | What Goes With Cumin | Types of Food | Types of Condiments | Types of Garnish | Cumin Substitute Options | Cumin vs. Coriander

What is Cumin?

The cumin plant is one that has flowers and is also a herb commonly found in the kitchen. It is one of the most famous spices found around the world. Cumin seeds are part of the same family as parsley.

It can be used as whole seeds or ground and used as a seasoning. When the seeds are aromatic, they can be used as a flavoring. You can use cumin seeds for medicine. 

How to Store Cumin

Cumin does not go bad, but it does tend to lose its strength if you do not store it the proper way. You can find cumin as a whole clove, cumin seeds, crushed cumin, or ground cumin. The shelf life of cumin is dependent upon how it is stored.

It would be best if you stored cumin in a dry, dark, and cool place. You want to keep cumin away from direct sunlight and nowhere near the stove. In addition, you want to keep your cumin in a container that is sealed tightly.

It is essential to take care when you store spices. This will help them retain their full flavor and aroma for as long as possible. 

Whole Cumin Seeds

This is a close look at whole dried cumin seeds.

Whole cumin seed typically has a shelf life of one year, especially when you store them in a dark pantry. 

These seeds are best when you add them to the beginning of your recipe. You can cook them in hot oil, which will bring out the flavor and scent. The taste will infuse in the oil as well as the other ingredients of your recipe. 

Ground Cumin

These are bowls of ground cumin seed with raw cumin seeds.

Ground cumin is a spice used as a seasoning that is often used with other spices that are ground. When these seasonings are mixed with a meal, it enhances all the flavors. This is why cumin is often used as part of a spice blend. Ground cumin is made from cumin seeds that are raw and dried, then ground into a powder. 

The amount of time that ground cumin lasts depends on how it is stored. The best way to keep it is in a dark cupboard that is cool and away from heat and sunlight. It would be best if you stored ground cumin in a container that has a lid that fits tightly. When stored this way, ground cumin can last about three to four years. 

Roasted Ground Cumin

Roasted ground cumin is made when the cumin seeds are slow-roasted before they are ground. Slow roasting the seeds release their essential oil, giving them a smokey smell. When the cumin seeds are ground roasted, they have more of a sweet smokey flavor. 

Just like ground cumin, you should store ground roasted cumin in a container with a tight lid and leave it in a dark space that is cool and away from heat and sunlight.

Cumin Oil

An illustration of the forms of cumin including oil.

Cumin essential oil is extracted from cumin seeds. It can be used for cooking and for aromatic purposes in a diffuser. The oil brings a zesty flavor to any meal. It can release an earthy, warm, and spicy aroma into the air. Cumin oil is also great for your digestion. It can replace ground cumin in any recipe. 

In general, black cumin oil will last about two years. After two years, it does not become unusable, it just begins to lose its potency. You should store the cumin oil in the bottle in which it comes in a cool, dark place. You should keep the bottle tightly sealed when not in use. 

When Should You No Longer Use Cumin?

Technically, ground cumin does not spoil or expire. However, when you buy cumin in the store, you will often see an expiration date or the best by date. These dates are a guess by the manufacturer of how long the cumin will remain at its best quality. They base this on when they package it and make some assumptions about how you will care for it. 

Even though ground cumin does not expire, there is a point where it no longer retains its full flavor. When they no longer have full flavor, it also means that the taste of the cumin may change. You can quickly tell if your cumin is losing its flavor.

You can rub a small amount of the cumin in your hand. You can smell and taste it. If it does not have a strong scent or fill flavor, then you should replace your cumin. 

How is Cumin Used For Cooking?

A close look at cumin seeds being measured on a weighing scale.

Both ground cumin and whole cumin seeds can be used in recipes. Cumin, especially whole cumin, is most often used in Indian dishes. It tends to be a prominent flavor in many Indian cooking and food recipes.

Often, the whole seed is infused with hot oil at the beginning of the food preparation. This helps it infuse into the other ingredients. The seeds are also roasted lightly in a pan over medium heat to bring out more flavor.

When you grind roasted cumin seeds, you create ground cumin. You can use ground cumin at any point in a recipe because it does not need heat for the flavor to be released. If you lightly roast the cumin seeds and then grind them with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, it will give your food a more intense flavor. 

You can use cumin in vegetables and meat, as well as sauce and soup.  It can be used in Indian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Latin American food. One of the popular Indian cuisines in which cumin is used as an ingredient is jeera rice or a Middle Eastern meal of falafel.  


In What Dishes Can You Use Cumin?

You may be used to using cumin in your favorite chili recipe, but it is also used in Indian curry, hummus, masala, and fajitas. It is ideal for meat, such as pork and beef. It adds extra complexity to vegetarian meals. 

What Can I Substitute for Cumin?

There are a few spices that you can use as a substitute for cumin, in case you happen to run out. Ground coriander grows from a plant in the parsley family, just like cumin, and is a great substitute for cumin. You can also use caraway seeds, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, fennel seeds, and garam masala. 

Can I Use Cumin For Medicinal Purposes?

Cumin is known as a herb and the seeds can be used to make medicine. People have been known to use cumin for various conditions, including abnormal levels of blood fat or cholesterol. Some people also use it for obesity.