Monday, January 17, 2011

Spice It Up!

My horribly disorganized spice cupboard!
The variety of herbs and spices we use in our cooking has come a long way in the past 20 years.  Bay leaves, basil and salt are no longer the only spices commonly found in the American kitchen -- mustard seeds and smoked paprika now grace our shelves too.  In my cupboards alone I had upwards of fifty different seasonings crammed into corners and onto racks!  I had baggies and re-used spice jars and yeast jars pulling double duty.  I had a rack on the wall and a cupboard full of herbs.  I could always find my way around, but when my husband wanted to cook something I had to guide him through the jungle.

Well, no more!  After much thought and planning, I’ve decided purchase a brand new magnetic spice rack that is, dare I say it, alphabetized! 

Washed spice containers waiting to be filled
I shopped around for couple of months and discovered that most magnetic spice container were:
a) too expensive and b) clear-topped.  Spices look beautiful in clear containers, but heat and light oxidize spices, decreasing their shelf life.  After a bit of Googling, my lovely husband located stainless steel square containers here that were perfect for our refrigerator.

This turned into a bit of a do-it-yourself project.  I created labels on the computer and attached magnetic tape (the thick kind) from JoAnn's to the back.  We could have ordered pre-cut magnets with the containers, but for the sake of our bank account we opted to cut our own.

Refrigerator, pulling double duty as a spice rack!
The final result?  A lovely, organized spice selection that both I and my guests can navigate with ease!

The best part of having my own carefully labeled containers is that I can buy herbs and spices in bulk, which is cheaper and allows for quantity control.  Many people have had the same bottle of curry powder sitting on their self for 10, 15 or 20 years.  This is not good.  Spices are fragile and should be replaced every 6 months to a year.  Instead of buying large bottles and throwing them out when their potency has waned, try this: buy smaller portions from the bulk section and use it all up before buying more.  The secret to preventing waste (and stale spices) is turnover.

So... how do you store your spices?  What works well for you?


  1. You are Darn smart!
    I want to do the same
    If i had a ststemlike this I could put my daughters awards from school right with the spices of life!
    I like this post a lot!

  2. So glad you are doing well...haven't enjoyed much in the last two years as well. I have also been cooking gluten-free as two of my grandchildren have celiac disease. It has been a challenge, but also successful. I didn't think we would ever be able to eat food that tasted good again. Take care. Angie

  3. CRY, you two can have this lovely spice rack using only the power of the internet :)

    Angie, I'm sorry to hear about the celiac disease. What a challenge! I hope you and your family have discovered foods that you like. I have lots of resources both here and on my website If you have any questions, you can always email me privately.

  4. That is ingenious! I had to put cardboard down on our pantry shelves to keep spice containers from falling between the wire bars. I might have to try this.

  5. Yes Brenna, do! I LOVE this system. Of course, now that I can find everything, I went and bought more (have you heard of ajwain?) so I have a few jars in my cupboard yet.

  6. Never heard of it, what does it taste/smell like and what is it used for? YOu might have to blog about it.