I’m guilty of buying an uncommon (for me) spice for a specific recipe, using it once, and then completely forgetting about it. And of course, we have all the normal spices that get used regularly, but sometimes we get burned out on even those. Then we find them, several months later, pushed to the back of the cabinet.
Many times these spices and dried herbs become expired, at least according to the label, but that doesn’t mean you should throw them out. They might lose their potency, but herbs and spices don’t really “go bad” as other dried goods might (read: they are completely safe to use after their “Best By” date).
Still, the drop-off in flavor can make it tempting enough to toss them in the trashcan. If you’re someone who hates waste, there are actually plenty of clever uses for old spices. Here are some of our favs.
1. Tie-Dye Shirts
Tie-dyed shirts have had a resurgence in popularity in the past few years, but honestly, these fun shirts never go out of style. We love the earthy natural tones that natural dye provides. And using your old spices is the perfect way to get the most out of them.
To make the dye, first, boil water and place it in a large bowl. Next, add two tablespoons of whatever spice you choose and let it infuse for several minutes. There are tons of beautiful colors to choose from. Tumeric will result in a warm golden color, beetroot will make a rich red hue, saffron will result in yellow, and paprika is a beautiful orange shade.
2. Add To Your Plants
You can add expired dried herbs and spices to your plants for a boost of minerals and vitamins. Adding these nutrient-dense superfoods will help keep your indoor or outdoor plants happy and healthy. Add cinnamon to protect the leaves and roots from fungus, use turmeric to get rid of powdery mildew, or make a mixture of nettle, dandelion, and yarrow to be used as liquid fertilizer. You can also add a mixture of rosemary, oregano, and bay leaves to keep plants growing.
3. Freshen Up Your Carpet And Rugs
Whether from kids, pets, or just heavy traffic, carpets and rugs can soak in and hold scents over time. While giving it a deep cleaning every now and again is always the ideal solution, in a punch, sprinkling a little ginger and rosemary prior to vacuuming can help freshen things up.
4. Homemade Soap
You know those fancy soaps you see at the farmer’s market for like $25? You can easily make homemade soap, complete with pretty herbs. You’ll need a soap-making mold, glycerin soap base, and whatever herbs you want to add.
5. Make A Natural Bug Repellent
While they may be pleasant for us, bugs and insects can be offput but the scent of certain herbs and spices. Bay leaves are a great example and can be effective at keeping bugs, especially cockroaches, out of the home. Mint is a natural ant and flea deterrent and can also be useful in warding off mice. Sage, rosemary, and thyme can also be bound in sachets to help deter a number of insects or pests.