Chances are if you cook a lot, you’ve accumulated quite the herb and spice collection during your trips to the store or global farmers market. What that collection looks like in your kitchen may vary.
Your experimentation with Indian cuisine yielded a nice stack of new stuff, as did your vegetarian phase that lasted all of two weeks. And let’s not forget all the desserts you made for the holidays. Whole nutmeg intrigues you.
During all of these exciting forays into new and yummy territory, your cabinets and counters got more crowded, but your organization may have suffered greatly. There are four containers of cinnamon because you constantly think you’ve run out. The sniff test you performed on the six batches of green or used-to-be-green stuff got you nowhere, but you are 99% sure at least one of them is thyme.
With that said, it’s time for an overhaul of your spice racks. The first thing you need to do is throw out anything that looks stale, discolored, or unidentifiable. You can also chuck whatever you don’t use on a regular basis. After that, you can get down to business with the tips listed below from our friends over at Food52.
Pick a Home for Them
Do you want to keep your bottles of spices on a lazy Susan in your cabinet? Would you prefer to mount them on the side of your fridge? Maybe inside the refrigerator? What would be the best space for the spices you use daily – your countertop?
Consider the pantry, cupboard, a drawer, box (we’ll explain this one later), or counter area. You can also divide up what you have by container type, frequency of use, or flavor pairings.
If you have bulk spices, there are many options available for packaging and easy access. You can purchase a rotating or shelf-style spice rack just about anywhere, and many come with empty jars. But you may already have your own baby food or mason jars that can be repurposed for this task!
Notice the beautiful mod display above in this picture shared on Food52? Order one online through Amazon or another retailer for less than $30, and stick your magnetized spice jars on the fridge. Some place the magnetic board above the cooking area, and others place it on the inside of a cabinet door.
Home chefs also love the idea of using a masala dabba, typically used in Indian cooking. It is a large lidded tin that houses about seven smaller tins of spices. Food52 suggests it for those who prefer to keep things close on the counter.
A cheap option is to use small zipper sandwich bags that can be filled with your faves and then placed in a box. We’ve also seen Tic Tac containers get recycled. Small, plastic storage containers with lids are also easily stackable and can keep your stash fresh. Get creative! With any of these ideas, you can also mix up your own blends and label them.
Label & Store Them
Your favorite part, right? Write the names of your goodies on adhesive labels, or write directly on the lids with markers. If you’re artsy, go for what you know with a chalk pencil, duct tape, or other decorative labeling system. In general, spices fare better in cool, dark spaces. The less direct light, the better when it comes to shelf and taste life. However, make the best use of the space you’ve got.
Instead of using a locator spell to find what you need, Food52’s Sarah Dickerman recommends storing your seasonings away in alphabetical order. That way you’ll know exactly where to look when you need something.
When was the last time you organized your spice stash? Do you have a reliable system that is working great? Will you implement any of the ideas in this list? Learn more from our friends at Food52, and tell us how you’re tackling your spices!