Show Your Spices Some Love
There is a lot to be said for an organized array of spices and seasonings. When you’re cooking, it saves time and trouble to reach in and grab what you need. And, it helps eliminate those ‘spice disasters,’ such as putting paprika instead of cinnamon in your oatmeal.
Begin by taking stock of what you already have and doing some cleaning up to eliminate old ones. You don’t want to ruin a perfectly cooked dish with old, stale spices.
Then, go about doing some research on how you want to organize a space in your kitchen just for your spices. You may choose to keep them stowed in a cabinet, on the counter in a neat display, on a magnetic strip, or in creating one all your own. However you choose to arrange them, you will want to have your plan and any equipment you need before starting.
Designate Area and Choose Equipment
The first step is deciding where and how you want to store your spices. If you have ample counter space, you might choose to keep them out in the open. But, if you are short on space, using a small cabinet or a section of a larger cabinet might work well.
A great way to store your spices is inside the door of your pantry or cabinet with a narrow spice rack. You can find spice racks that install in your cupboard and slide out or down for easy access.
Although that space above your stove looks convenient, it may not be the best storage spot. The heat that rises in that area is not suitable for the spices, and reaching over hot pots and burners can be hazardous for you. Pick a space that is convenient for you but also safe.
Gather Your Spices
Right now, your spices may be scattered to the four winds. You’ll need to begin by gathering all your herbs so you can inventory them. First, check for any out-of-date spices and throw them out.
Next, check each spice to see if it still has vibrant color and smell. If it looks dull and faded, throw it out. If it has lost its aroma, it’s time to pitch it; if a spice seems to be clumpy, hard-packed, or smells musty, time for the trash.
Depending on your space, cooking style, and even your personality, you’ll find several ways to organize your spices to suit your needs. Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Organize in Alphabetical Order
This is pretty self-explanatory. If straight lines and color-coded clothes closets appeal to you, this may be your style. You can quickly start from left to right and stick the spices in alphabetical order, no matter what storage arrangement you choose. Even a round turntable works for this. Just pick a starting point and spin around, alphabetizing as you go.
Some of the more oversized items (like the ones we buy at Costco) may not fit on the rack within your alphabetized spaces, but that’s okay. You can keep those items organized separately or by using one of the other tips below.
2. Organize by Type of Use
This method works well, especially if you think about doing different types of cooking, such as barbecuing, baking, and all the indoor cooking, separately. Keep spices used in specific areas in separate storage units close to the barbecue, baking, or next to the stove. Organizing your spices this way can save time if you set up your kitchen in specific cooking workstations.
3. Organize by Categories
This style of organizing spices may only make sense to one person when they see it. But that’s okay. You may want to separate your herbs by savory and sweet, or by spicy or mild, or even by the type of food they go in. You may even want to separate your spices into categories as simple as “I use these all the time.” to “I rarely use these.” Whatever makes sense to you are your spice categories.
Organizing your spices can be done in so many different ways. When designing your spice center, the main thing to think about is to create a plan that works best for your kitchen, particular cooking style, and needs.
I keep most of my spices in the freezer. They keep a long time. Cinnamon, Chili Powder, Nutmeg, Paprika, Cumin, Sage, all powered spices, etc. I do not bake very much.