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 be able to reach in and grab what you need. And, it really helps eliminate those ‘spice disasters,’ such as putting paprika instead of cinnamon in your oatmeal. I cook and bake a lot, and organizing my spices is always a challenge! So here are some tips…
Begin by doing some research on how you want to go about designing your spice area. You may choose to keep them stowed in a cabinet, on the counter in a neat display, on a magnetic strip, or in a creation all your own. However you choose to arrange them, you will want to have your plan and any equipment you need before you start.
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 decide 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 good for the spices, and reaching over hot pots and burners is not good 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 spices 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 First, check for any out of date spices and throw them out.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 a spice looks dull and faded, throw it out. If a spice 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.
Finally, combine duplicate spices. If you’re like me, you’ve bought spices when you’re not sure if you have the one you need for a recipe. Once you have your spices combined, you’ll know what you have and you’ll be ready to organize them.
Depending on your space, your cooking style, and even your personality, you’ll find several ways to organize your spices to suit your needs. Here are a couple suggestions:
Alphabetical – This is pretty self-explanatory. If straight lines and color-coded clothes closets appeal to you, this may be your style. No matter what storage arrangement you choose, you can easily start from left to right and stick the spices in alphabetical order. Even a round turntable works for this. Just pick a starting point and spin around, alphabetizing as you go. Some of the larger items 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.
Type of Use – This method works well especially if you think about doing different types of cooking, such as barbequing, baking, and all the indoor cooking, separately. Keep spices used in specific areas in separate storage units close to the barbeque, or baking, or next to the stove. This type of organization can save time if you set up your kitchen in specific cooking work stations.
Categories – This style of organizing spices may only make sense to one person when they see it – you. But that’s okay. You may want to separate your spices 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 in 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 spice cabinet can be done in so many different ways. The main thing to think about when designing your spice center is to create a plan that works best with your particular cooking style and needs.