Herbs and spices are an essential element in cooking and they might even provide medicinal benefits at the same time. When many of us buy herbs and spices, we head to the herb and spice section of our local supermarket. As most of these herbs and spices have been ground into powder, much of their flavor has been lost. The longer you keep these jars in the pantry, the more their flavor declines. By the time you get around to tossing them into your creations, these herbs and spices are little more than packaged dust. With a renewed interest in herbs and spices, we have access to fresh herbs at great prices through e-commerce sites. As you take the plunge into herb purchases over the Internet, what do you need to take into consideration? Just follow a few simple suggestions:

1. Always shop for organic herbs and spices, where the option is viable. Most herbs and spices grow very well under organic methods of production. You may have increased flavor and improved antioxidant properties. Of course, if you are buying the product for its health benefit, an organic item grown without the use of chemicals is probably a better choice. You may pay more; you may not. It really depends on the item. As an additional benefit, you may feel better buying organic because of organic agricultural production's lesser impact on the environment.

2. Avoid powdered herbs and spices. The freshest flavor comes from a whole leaf or whole spice, ground fresh. As an example, fresh grind a whole clove in your coffee mill and notice how sharp the aroma is. Wouldn't you much rather toss this freshly-ground clove into the pumpkin bread you're preparing to bake than old, powdered cloves with little flavor or fragrance? With a whole leaf or spice, get a coffee mill and grind it when you are cooking or baking. In your kitchen is where you want to release the oil that carries the aroma and flavor. Every dried herb will crush to some extent in packing and shipping, but you want one that resembles a leaf to the greatest extent possible.

3. For optimal freshness, store your herbs and spices in glass jars with well-fitting lids. For bulk storage, store the jars in a cool, dark place. Smaller amounts can be put into smaller containers in your spice cabinet. You can always use old spice jars for your new purchase. If you do so, wash and dry them thoroughly. Setting them in the sun for a day or two will ensure that they are dry enough and will not support mold growth. Be sure to make new labels for your jars before you forget the contents.

Take these bits of advice and find a trusted vendor of whole organic herbs and spices on the Internet.