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Jun 10, 2009 11:46 AM

Spice Cabinet Mayhem

My spice cabinet is out of control! What started as a corner of a cupboard has grown to ridiculous proportions, with spices taking over two shelves and overflowing onto the counter. They're a major PITA to search through.

I've researched spice rack ideas, but none seem large enough to hold the entire thing. Do any of you with unwieldy spice collections have a solution? This is an intense situation, so no option will go unconsidered.

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  1. I use about 4 of these Rubbermaid turntables - 3 singles and 1 double, as in this picture:

    And I'm still overflowing onto my counter next to my microwave. I blame it on Penzey's opening a store near me. :-) Anyway - I then (very roughly) alpha-sort the spices and herbs.

    Other options: A drawer spice organizer:

    as well as many other ways to organize:


    The wall/door mount versions are good if you have the appropriate space - such as a closet pantry door.

    ETA: I wanted to note that several of the turntables I use are for larger items - iodized salt, peppercorn bottles, molasses, corn syrup, some baking goods, etc. So not all are used for spices. I just keep all similar items in one cabinet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Thanks! I've seen a lot of those, but some are new, too. I'll check them out.

    2. You should probably toss half of them out, I did. Some of the ones I tossed were pre 1980, no good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        Most of these are less than a year old...

      2. I used to have the same problem, I love herbs and spices. Once it got out of hand though I asked myself if I really needed all that stuff. I decided to keep it simple and buy in small quantities only what I needed for what I was planning to cook. I think this simple change made me a better cook. I no longer have a large inventory of spices and herbs on the shelf losing flavor by the day, but have fresh potent ones that are a joy to use.

        This approach may not work for everyone, but for me it works very well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Greyghost

          I wish there was a nice spice shop nearby, but around here there are mostly grocery stores selling by the bottle. I'd kill to be able to visit a spice shop everyday when I buy fresh food for dinner. :)

          1. re: morphone

            Do you have food co-ops? I find the freshness of herbs and spices at our local (Twin Cities) co-ops to be even better than Penzey's. Granted, there is not quite the variety of Penzey's but everything I purchase is far fresher thanks to high turnover. For some things I have to go to Penzey's (true Bay leaves for instance), but it irks me that so much of what I buy there goes to waste due to the quantity I have to purchase.

        2. Instead of having a spice cabinet, have a spice drawer. If you have an IKEA nearby, you can get drawer liners that keep the jars in place, and can even be stacked so you can store twice as many jars.

          What I find works better is to store the jars upright in the drawer with a label on the lid saying what it is and when I bought it (so I know when something should have been tossed two years ago).

          1. I hear you. My collection is taking over, as well. While I hope to find a solution to hold all of them, for now I have them grouped, which helps on the finding.

            The spices I use mostly for baking are on a carousel spice rack (gift from a friend). It holds 9 or so bottles; I use it for ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, lavendar, etc.)

            Indian spices Itumeric, garam masala, whole cinnmon, cardamom, coriander) are in baggies (i get them mostly at bilk places), but they are stuck together in one bin, so I usually pull out the whole thing (in an old fruit quart container) when I cook Indian.

            There's a similar setup for Asian spices like szechaun peppersorns and star anise.

            The other spices are on 2 turntables--one has stuff I use a lot, like herbes de provence and oregano. The other, higher up and less convenient, has stuff I don't use as much such as "singapore seasoning" and caraway seeds.

            It's not perfect, but I found organizing by type makes it easier for me to recall where the spices are. What I would like would be something like a mini card catalog to hold and organize them all.

            A friend of mine has three shelves of spices, she has each shelf as part if the alphabet, i.e. A-H for the top shelf.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dct

              That's not a bad idea - packing them in also keeps an minimal amount of air in the bags. I do like keeping them in glass though... why does this have to be so complicated? *whine* ;)

              1. re: dct

                I like your idea of separating the spices into their respective groups and I'm thinking of adopting it for my kitchen as I do a lot of Asian styles as well as French and Mediterranean. One question - do you find that this method causes any sort of transfer of flavour or aroma between spices? I am guess not, if they are in bags. Mine have always been in glass jars which take up much more room. Have you had any difficulty with any transfer or do you find the bags are enough protection? Thanks!