Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How To Use Up Old Spices

I'm doing some Late Spring Cleaning... (meaning it's almost summer-- and I felt the need to name this rare and exceptional activity : )  I seem to have accumulated a number of spices that are NOT organic or that have lost their essential zest (i.e., have gone flat).  I thought briefly about bundling them up and offering them on freecycle but before I did that I googled and here-- gleaned from several sites-- are some excellent ideas for recycling those seemingly useless "expired" spices:
  • simmer on the stove in water with a little vinegar to 'spice' up your kitchen and banish stale cooking odors (or put in a crockpot on low)
  • pour this mix down your drain to freshen it (won't harm septic tanks)
  • pour this mix at your front or back door path-- you  (and visitors) will have a pleasant fragrance whenever coming in or leaving your home
  • decorate and scent your home-- ex., cloves stuck in an orange, cinnamon sticks with ribbons tied around them, etc.
  • sprinkle crushed herbs on your carpet before vacuuming for scent and deodorizing
  • put cloves or dried lavender in a sock, tie a knot and throw into the dryer with your clothes-- will smell wonderful (and cloves are a deterrent to moths)
  • add colored spices (like chili powder) to emulsion paint for pleasant, warm tones and earthy colors to paint your home with or add it to your art materials -- also vividly-colored spices create great striations in sand painting
  • amass all your bits of old soap and cook up with various expired herbs and spices for some lovely scented soaps (avoid tumeric and other flesh- and towel-staining spices of course)
  • make your own spicy incense to burn at dinner parties
  • "dye" your old cottons using a mix of garam masala and vinegar water
  • "hot" spices like cinnamon, cayenne, etc., can be dusted around plants to off-put neighborhood cats and other pests-- birds can't 'taste' the heat so it won't affect them
  • donate to soup kitchens, churches, etc.
  • make sachets or dream cushions or comfort pillows
  • experiment with spicing up teas... mix up a number of herbs and spices in a bag, shake, and use a teaspoon in your herbal tea
  • some spices-- like fennel seed and caraway seed-- might actually germinate and grow fresh green herbs and veggies!
  • Anything you want to add to this list? Please share here!
*lovely spice photo above is thanks to photographer Daniel Battiston who lives in Argentina and displays some of his work at stock.xching