Organizing Your Spice Rack: A Recipe For Success
If you like to cook and you’ve amassed a sizable spice collection, you probably struggle with keeping it organized. You may dream of a spice rack with uniformly sized jars and matching labels, but we can’t all have Martha’s kitchen. Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” solution, and instead try to find the storage method that makes the most sense with the way you cook.
The trouble with trying to make everything perfect is that as soon as you add a new spice to the mix, that solution is ruined. Sort through all your spices and decide what to keep, what to toss (if you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably never will), and identify duplicates that can be joined together. When you’ve pared down the collection, you’re ready to get organized.
Your Organization Method
Consider the basic organization structures for your spices: often used vs. rarely used; cooking vs. baking; ground vs. whole; or alphabetical. The simplest, most functional method is to keep your most frequently used spices closest at hand. This means having them at eye level, either on a rack, or on the first shelf of your spice cabinet.
However you choose to store your spices, always keep them away from excessive light or heat, as these can dry out and damage their essential oils. That means your spice storage should never be in direct sunlight or in the cabinet directly over your stove. Always make sure all your spices are visible, because you won’t use what you can’t see.
Your Storage Options
When it comes to spices, storage options must address not only where the collection will be kept, but also what containers you’ll use for each individual spice. Storing spices in different sized jars is not a very elegant solution, so if your spices are out in the open and you want a uniform look, rather than trying to get everything to fit into the same size jar, choose different sizes of the same style jar.
A modern twist on the traditional spice rack, magnetic tins offer an attractive uniform display, and most have clear lids for visibility. Mount the magnetic sheet to your wall in a place that’s convenient, but not too close to the stovetop or other heat sources that will degrade the spice quality.
If a cabinet is the best option in your kitchen, outfit yours with a multi-tiered Lazy Susan to keep jars from getting lost in the back of your shelves. I personally use trays that fit my cabinet shelves. I can take each try down to find what I want and use the full depth of my cabinet. If your kitchen has a lot of drawer space, you have the option of creating a spice drawer. Organizing drawer inserts keep spice jars visible, on a fixed or sliding inclined tray. These organizers save cabinet space, but they tend to accommodate only smaller jars, so be sure to measure everything before you buy.
An international note: If you cook often, you might find the masala dabba technique of spice storage a pleasant change of pace. This traditional Indian display uses a flat tin to corral smaller containers of spices, ensuring your most commonly used spices and spice blends are easily accessed. This method is not usually manageable for larger collections, but you can try keeping a few different masala dabbas for each style cuisine you like to cook.
How do you store your spices and how is it working for you? Let us know in the comments below which method you use, and if you have a spice rack you’re particularly proud of, share your photos with us, too!