Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly ground spices? Or the flavor of a dish that’s been simmering for hours with just the right amount of aromatic spices? If you’re a fan of cooking with spices, then you know how important it is to have them organized and within reach.
Organizing your spices makes cooking more enjoyable and efficient. It also helps you save money because you’re less likely to buy duplicates of what you already have.
Here are 7 tips to help you organize your spices, so they’re always at the ready when inspiration (or a recipe) strikes.
1. Get Rid of Expired Spices
The first step to organizing your spices is to get rid of anything that’s past its prime. Spices lose their potency over time, so it’s important to keep an eye on their expiration dates.
To see if a spice is still good, give it a sniff. If it doesn’t have much of a scent, then it’s time to say goodbye. Also, take a look at the color. If it’s faded, that’s another sign that the spice has lost its strength.
If you’re unsure when you bought a particular spice, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and get rid of it. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your spices!
Expired spices can end up taking up valuable space in your pantry, so it’s worth taking the time to go through and get rid of anything that’s past its prime.
2. Invest in Airtight Storage Containers
Airtight storage containers are a must-have for anyone serious about organizing their spices. They help keep your spices fresh for longer and prevent them from picking up unwanted smells or tastes from other items in your pantry.
When choosing airtight storage containers, make sure to get ones that are the right size for your needs. There’s no point in buying a huge container if you only have a few small spices to store. Likewise, you don’t want to end up with a bunch of tiny containers that are painful to organize.
Airtight storage containers come in all different shapes and sizes, so take your time to find the ones that work best for you and your pantry.
3. Separate Your Spices Into Categories
Once you’ve got your airtight storage containers, it’s time to start filling them up! A great way to organize your spices is to separate them into categories. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and helps prevent you from accidentally using the wrong spice in a recipe.
Common categories include:
- Herbs: These are spices that come from the leaves of plants, such as basil, oregano, and mint.
- Spices: These are spices that come from the seeds, roots, or bark of plants, such as cumin, ginger, and turmeric.
- Seasonings: These are spices that are used to add flavor to food, such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
You can also further subdivide your spices into smaller categories, such as savory versus sweet spices. However you choose to do it, just make sure you have a system that works for you and helps you find what you need quickly and easily.
4. Store Similar Spices Together
Believe it or not, there’s a science to organizing your spices. Studies have shown that the human brain is better at recognizing patterns when items are arranged in a specific way.
One way to take advantage of this is to store similar spices together. For example, you could keep all of your chili powder-based spices together or group all of your baking spices together.
Here’s a quick rundown of some common spice combinations:
- Chili powder-based spices: Chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle powder
- Baking spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice
- Herbs de Provence: Thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary
- Cajun seasoning: Paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
Organizing your spices by category is a great start, but taking it one step further and grouping similar spices together will help you find what you need even faster.
5. Keep Spices Within Arm’s Reach
Another way to make your spices more accessible is to keep them within arm’s reach. This may seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference when you’re trying to find a particular spice in a hurry.
If your spices are stored up high or in the back of a cupboard, you’re much more likely to grab the wrong one or give up and use something else entirely. But if they’re stored within easy reach, you’re much more likely to find the right spice and use it in your cooking.
Some people like to keep their spices on a spice rack on the countertop. Others prefer to store them in a drawer or cabinet near the stove.
Ultimately, it’s up to you where you store your spices. Just make sure they’re in a place that’s easy for you to access.
6. Consider Pantry Accessories
There are a few pantry accessories that can help you keep your spices organized. Spice racks, for example, are a great way to keep all of your spices within arm’s reach. They come in all different shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.
Pantry drawers are another great option. These allow you to store your spices in a way that’s out of sight but still within easy reach. And if you have a lot of spices, you may even want to consider installing a spice rack on the inside of your pantry door.
Some people swear by lazy Susans, which are turntables that you can use to store and organize all sorts of things, including spices. They’re especially handy if you have a lot of spices and need a way to keep them all within easy reach.
7. Use Labels
If you’re not sure how to organize your spices, labels can be a big help. They’ll not only help you keep your spices organized, but they’ll also help you find the right spice when you need it.
You can buy pre-printed spice labels, or you can make your own. If you choose to make your own, be sure to use a permanent marker, so the labels don’t rub off over time.
You can print labels for all of your spices or just for the ones you use most often. And if you have a lot of spices, you may even want to consider labeling each drawer or shelf so you can find what you need even faster.
The Bottom Line
Organizing your spices doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these simple tips, you can easily keep your spices organized and within easy reach.
So the next time you’re looking for a particular spice, you won’t have to go on a wild goose chase through your pantry.
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