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How do you organize your spice rack/cupboard?

boyzoma Jul 25, 2010 12:25 PM

Ok - so I may be a little anal retentive. My spices have an exact place for each one. I can reach for something without even looking. Mine are in alphabetical order. Last night was the last time I used any spices. So today, I decided I wanted a bloody mary. I grabbed the celery salt off hand and put the first shake into the vodka/tomato juice. It wasn't celery salt - it was salad seasoning! DH had been in the cupboard after I had gone to sleep last night and apparently decided to "rummage around" for what he was looking for (he knows better). Low and behold, all my spices were mixed up. So after a nice re-arrangement and discussion with DH, I got to wondering - how do you do your spices?

PS - the best spice rack I have ever seen my dad built for my mom. There was a large space next to the refrigerator so he made a spice rack the height/depth of the refrigerator, about 4" wide with shelves all the way down. He placed this on a pair old roller-skates so that it could "roll out" with a handle on the front! Great use of wasted space and old skates!

  1. s
    Sinicle Jul 25, 2010 12:37 PM

    Both spices and pantry are alphbetical and my computer-generated food list is arranged the same as the store aisles in our usual supermarket. I'm a joy to live with.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sinicle
      goodhealthgourmet Jul 25, 2010 05:48 PM

      ditto and ditto...fortunately for everyone else, i live alone ;)

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
        LindaWhit Jul 26, 2010 06:25 AM

        Semi-Ditto, Ditto, and Ditto. :-) I learned the shopping list method from my Mom. Woe to those supermarkets who change up their aisles after I've gotten used to them. :-)

        As for the spice cabinet - I use Rubbermaid Lazy Susans in my cabinet (or as we call them in our family, turny-go-rounds). A couple of singles, two doubles. The baking spices are grouped together, alphabetically, and then the rest of them all alphabetically as they are, depending on where they are. Tall containers are on single turny-go-rounds, the shorter jars are stacked on top of each other on the doubles.

        Lesser used spices/herbs are still alphabetical; just on the inside of the turny-go-rounds. So if I need ground coriander (infrequently used), I'll rotate to the "C" on the appropriate lazy susan, remove the celery salt and probably something else, and coriander is in the center area.

    2. f
      flashria Jul 25, 2010 12:40 PM

      I don't, I'm afraid. I have thought about it, but I just can't. This means that every time I want one I end up with about ten on my counter top to put away again. I have found that it means that the ones I use most (cumin, paprika, oregano, garam masala....) always end up at the front, so quite often it works in my favour. Other times it's just a pain in the neck....but do tell, are yours all in one long line then? I have a square cupboard for mine and am not sure how I could alphabeticise them - I look forward to hearing ideas from other people with better organisational skills than mine!

      1 Reply
      1. re: flashria
        boyzoma Jul 25, 2010 12:44 PM

        Mine are arranged in rows (I don't have enough room for a spice rack). But I know what is in each row. However, it is really a pain if I find something "new" that has to fit in. I have to relearn my spices all over again. LOL (sometimes I am my own worst enemy)

      2. m
        MysticYoYo Jul 25, 2010 12:49 PM

        Mine are always put away willy-nilly. Yes, I have to take out about 10 bottles when I'm looking for something but I'm just not that organized.
        A friend of mine remodeled her kitchen and has a large flat deep drawer (under what was supposed to be a wall-oven opening, but she had made into a liquor cabinet). The drawer is lined so bottles don't roll around and everything is set into the drawer label up in general alphabetical order. I appreciate it when I'm over there cooking (her new kitchen is a dream to cook in!) but it's too anal retentive for me to consider repeating in my own home.

        1. h
          Harters Jul 25, 2010 12:58 PM

          Gosh!

          People *organise" their spice cupboard?

          Me? I have a plastic box in the cupboard - everything gets thrown into that. The box is a recentish improvement on opening the cupboard door and throwing everything in.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters
            v
            Val Jul 25, 2010 05:15 PM

            LOL...I'm with you, Harters....general disarray about describes it...though I DO try to keep my most oft-used ones front & center...cumin, cayenne, turmeric, chili powder, ginger. ARGHH!!!

          2. 512window Jul 25, 2010 01:03 PM

            I organize mine by families - groups of spices and herbs that I use in similar ways. So there's a section of leafy green herbs like basil, thyme, dill weed, etc. Then there's a section of hot/piquant spices like paprika, tumeric, cayenne pepper, etc. Then there's a section for spices that are often used in baking (but can be used in regular cooking), like powdered ginger, cardomom, cloves, coriander. I keep all the salts (not very many these days), and powdered garlic and onion together.

            Nothing is alphabetized.

            6 Replies
            1. re: 512window
              v
              vstock Jul 25, 2010 05:51 PM

              I am with you 512. I have two drawers that are generally arranged by "green stuff" and seasonings and a second drawer that has baking stuff. Nothing alphabetically; about as far as I go is if I use all of something, I put the empty bottle on the shelf in the pantry so when I go to buy spices next I remember what I am out of.

              1. re: 512window
                AndrewK512 Jul 25, 2010 08:10 PM

                I organize my spice rack the same way, by 'families', but in a random order within each family.
                My spice cupboard however, is entirely random, but I can navigate it easily enough due to memory of the shapes and sizes of the containers for each spice. And most of my spices are whole, so I don't have to sort through random brown powders.

                1. re: 512window
                  j
                  Jemon Aug 9, 2010 08:43 AM

                  I do this too, it makes total sense to me, but when someone comes over and asks where, say, dried thyme is, they hardly ever seem to "get it" when I say it's with the other similar herbs! I'm thinking of switching to the alphabetic system, but the problem then is, do you put New Mexicos and Chipotles together under "C" for chilies, "P" for peppers, or under "N" and "C"? Maybe I WILL stick with this system. :)

                  1. re: Jemon
                    JoanN Aug 9, 2010 11:05 AM

                    I keep all my peppers--black, white, green, crushed red, cayenne, Szchewan, Indonesian long--under "P" for pepper. Chile peppers are all in zip-locks clipped using binder rings to my wire spice rack and alphabetical by the name of the chile from top to bottom. It's really just a question of what works for you, but my system seems to work really well on those occasions when someone else is cooking in my kitchen. At least, I've never found spices in the wrong place--as I have nearly all my food prep implements and gadgets.

                    1. re: Jemon
                      512window Aug 9, 2010 02:07 PM

                      Don't crack! It's a great system. You just need better friends.
                      Stay the course. Nobody likes a quitter!

                      Anyway, if you read the rest of this, we are definitely not alone. It looks like half of us do it this way and half in alphabetical order.

                      1. re: 512window
                        j
                        Jemon Aug 10, 2010 11:03 PM

                        Yup. It is a great system. it makes sense for those of us who know whats what!

                  2. Glencora Jul 25, 2010 01:06 PM

                    Mine are in alphabetical order. So many start with C, though, and I feel slightly silly reminding my SO that cumin comes before curry and after cloves. My mom was a librarian, so that's my excuse.

                    1. c
                      Cathy Jul 25, 2010 01:06 PM

                      Salts, peppers and sugars are closer to cutting board and stove. I use those when cooking/on the stovetop.

                      The other side of kitchen has a wood rack (on the side of a cabinet) we made fit after we bought 21 rubber sealed jars at a great sale. It is just next to the coffee/mixer/dough kneading counter. When I buy bulk spices (usually one ounce/a few Tablespoons or however much I think I will need), I put the plastic bag inside a jar.

                      Extracts and flavorings inside a cabinet above the coffee and mixer/kneading area.

                      Not really alpha or labeled on the exterior. I don't buy too much-that's a waste. I can see everything and know what it is since it will be gone in a month or so.

                      I do load up on Herbes de Provence constantly and cardamom around the holidays. But also bulk and it gets used almost immediately. I don't buy much but seasoned salt and celery salt in grocery stores.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cathy
                        t
                        tullius Jul 25, 2010 02:51 PM

                        I have a shallow drawer next to the stove where I keep spices laying down so I can see the label. It works great, pull out the drawer & everything is visible.

                        I keep seasoned salt, powdered onion & garlic in the front, blends like Old Bay, Tony Chachere's & Cavender's in the back because they're big & not used as often. The rest are grouped loosely by cuisine. If I use them together , they are near each other. Because they are laying down & not all the same height, they do not form neat little rows.
                        This only bothers me a little.

                        Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mace, ect (that I use mostly in baking) are kept in a cupboard with vanilla, baking powder, soda & cream of tartar.

                      2. b
                        Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jul 25, 2010 02:44 PM

                        Maybe you all can inspire me. I keep my spices on one of those three-tiered plastic shelves in the pantry, but we have such limited pantry space as it is, there are always bottles and cans and jars and bags blocking a clear view of the spices whenever I need them. I have NO MORE counter-space, so that isn't an option. I'm also skeptical about so many store-bought spice racks that come with pre-filled spice jars. I imagine a lot of those could be stale, after sitting around Bed Bath and Beyond warehouses for who knows how long. I have most of the major spices already, and mine are stale enough, thank you very much!

                        So what I'd really love is the perfect wall-mountable spice rack, something with a few rows of shelves so my jars can be on display, facing forward and accessible. Ideally the rack would only be three inches deep at most so it doesn't jut out too much. Do they even make a spice rack that simple?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                          Glencora Jul 25, 2010 02:51 PM

                          That's exactly what I have. Two inches deep and wall-mountable. I'll try to remember where I bought it. Anyway, it does exist.

                          1. re: Glencora
                            Glencora Jul 25, 2010 03:14 PM

                            Found it. RSVP Wall Cabinet Mount Spice Rack (12 Bottle) 31.99 on Ebay. I don't think I paid that much, but I've had it ten years and have been very happy with it. I think it's more attractive than most and takes up no space.

                          2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                            goodhealthgourmet Jul 25, 2010 05:56 PM

                            "So what I'd really love is the perfect wall-mountable spice rack, something with a few rows of shelves so my jars can be on display, facing forward and accessible. "
                            ~~~~~~
                            there are options, but they never hold ENOUGH for me. i wish i could keep my spices tucked away in a drawer, but i've never been fortunate enough to live in a place with a kitchen to accommodate that setup - most drawers aren't even big enough for those cool spice drawer organizers i've seen.

                            i finally decided to "build" my own: silver magnetized boards from the Container Store + stainless steel spice canisters (with my own labels). tack the boards to the wall in the space between the upper cabinets and the counter, and voila! instant spice rack, no loss of counter OR cabinet space, and it's "expandable" because i can always just add another board if necessary.

                            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                              b
                              Beckyleach Jul 25, 2010 08:33 PM

                              IKEA is selling (they're new) clear top, screw on, stainless metal canisters three for $4, and really nice (all my knives are on two, too) stainless magnetic strips/racks, for only $9. I can get five or so of the cannisters on one strip.....and those are large cannisters. They may have smaller ones, too. Mount them up your wall and you're good to go!

                              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                                t
                                The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah Aug 10, 2010 04:29 AM

                                I have two spice rack drawers. Each has three drawers and the spices lay on their sides, but when you pull the drawer out, it drops down. I ordered them from Brylane, I think. I also have a carousel on the counter for stuff I use all the time, e.g. salt, pepper etc.

                                I keep them in alphabetical order.

                              2. alanbarnes Jul 25, 2010 05:04 PM

                                I've got dozens of different spices. Until I decided to be anal about things it was always impossible to find what I wanted. So now put most of the spices in freezer bags, then alphabetize the bags in boxes meant to store photos. The boxes neatly fill the bottom shelf of one of my upper cabinets.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                  goodhealthgourmet Jul 25, 2010 05:58 PM

                                  i love this idea from an organizational perspective...but i wouldn't trust myself to fumble with a ziploc in the midst of cooking chaos. i have no doubt that my impatience would eventually result in a bag ripped open, with spice flying everywhere!

                                2. Veggo Jul 25, 2010 06:00 PM

                                  I arrange golf shirts in my closet alphabetically by the club of their origin, but my spice cabinet is a chaotic game of whack-a-mole. That's how single men live.

                                  1. r
                                    runwestierun Jul 25, 2010 06:09 PM

                                    I have these magnetic tins:

                                    http://www.pfaltzgraff.com/kamenstein...

                                    and they are stuck on the side of my fridge alphabetically. There are more than 100. I love them.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: runwestierun
                                      Miss Needle Jul 26, 2010 08:00 AM

                                      Holy crap! That's a lot of spices!

                                      I do the same thing, but am at 71 -- 7 rows of 10 tins, with the extra one on the side. First row are all the different salts. Next three rows are spices commonly used in Indian/Mexican cooking -- cumin, cardamom, coriander, etc. Next row are the different types of chili peppers. Next row are spices commonly used in Western European/Mediterranean cooking -- basil, marjoram, etc. Then last two rows are stuff that I use in East Asian cooking -- Szechuan peppercorns, white peppercorns, tangerine peel, etc. My sole one tin on the side is whole nutmeg -- couldn't fit it in my 70.

                                      1. re: Miss Needle
                                        r
                                        runwestierun Jul 26, 2010 10:06 AM

                                        I know it sounds like alot, but I don't have anything that's really asoteric in there. I have alot of different peppers (white+black--both ground and whole, pink "peppercorns", szechuan, long, smoked black pepper, green, mixed). When you combine those with the different ground chili powders, that takes a quarter of the tins. I love that I can have eo many and it doesn't take any cupboard or drawer space.

                                        1. re: runwestierun
                                          Miss Needle Jul 26, 2010 12:10 PM

                                          Definitely. I've got a small kitchen compared to most people in the US. Having my spices on my fridge freed up a lot of space in my cabinet for other stuff --though I can really use a pantry. One day ...

                                      2. re: runwestierun
                                        g
                                        ginikay Aug 1, 2010 06:37 AM

                                        Okay, I have a silly question, for those of you that transfer your spices to lovely little tins or pretty bottles, what do you do with the spice that doesn't fit in there? In my experience, even a medium-sized bottle (like mccormick montreal steak seasoning comes in) would overflow any of the spice jars I see for sale. I have a burning desire to get some beautiful little jars that I saw on a television show, but I'm flummoxed by this point, LOL. I guess if you buy all of your spices in bulk somewhere it's a moot point, but I have a monstro-huge bottle of garlic salt, for instance...

                                        1. re: ginikay
                                          Miss Needle Aug 1, 2010 07:55 AM

                                          What I do is take the leftover spice, put it into bags and cram it into a plastic storage container that I keep in a cupboard in the back behind some pots and pans.

                                          1. re: Miss Needle
                                            g
                                            ginikay Aug 1, 2010 12:56 PM

                                            Heh... perfect! :) Fancy spicejars, here I come!

                                            1. re: Miss Needle
                                              alkapal Aug 9, 2010 07:39 AM

                                              the problem with plastic bags and plastic containers is that it all starts to smell the same.... at least that has been true when i did that for indian spices. glass is the best, i think.

                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                Miss Needle Aug 11, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                Alka, totally agree with you about glass -- not just for spices but for everything in general. But living in a small apartment in Manhattan, one gets to be very creative in trying to maximize space.

                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                  Bada Bing Aug 11, 2010 01:28 PM

                                                  I have to add that I bought some asfoetida (hing) from an Indian grocer, and even in it's original (plastic) container, I ended up putting it in the garage due to the smell. I don't know if glass is the only solution. But SOME solution was needed.

                                          2. Gio Jul 25, 2010 07:16 PM

                                            Oh gosh. I just realized I'm anal-retentive. This morning I didn't even know what that meant. In my kitchen there are 3 spice & herb hiding places. One above the sink that holds on the bottom shelf left various ground peppers and paprikas. On the bottom shelf right are various curry powders and spice blends I've bought or made myself. In the middle are all the salts one absolutely needs to survive..

                                            Second shelf left holds spices one needs for baking such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, mace, etc. Second shelf right holds leafy dried herbs like basil, oreganos (yes, several varieties), mint, thyme, marjoram, etc.

                                            Then there's another cabinet above the counter to the left of the sink which holds spices one would use in Asian cuisine: several mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, garam masala, 5 spice powder, turmeric, etc. Also seldom used stuff like juniper berries. This is a cool, temperature-wise, cabinet. All this is on small-ish lazy susans.

                                            Next, we move into the pantry where you will find baskets of dried chiles, and back-ups of spices I might run out of, God forbid, including the liquids like vanilla and rose and orange waters, etc. and gallon jars of herbs I've dried from those growing in my garden. HELP...
                                            No. that's ok. I'm fine.

                                            1. b
                                              Beckyleach Jul 25, 2010 08:28 PM

                                              I have two very shallow drawers that have lots of Penzey's jars lined up so I can read their labels (aka, they're on their sides) and then I bought some cheap plastic silverware drawer dividers for the little Tone's sizes jars, which also are flat. That works great. Now, the spices I buy in bulk are not so great: they're in old Plochman's mustard jars with the great, plastic lids, and in a pie safe. That requires rummaging, but as one person said, the spices/herbs I use the most migrate to the front....all the hot sauces (dh collects them) are on a lazy susan in the cabinet above the spice drawers. On one side of that are the salts and peppers; the other side has shakers and misc. seasonings. On the next shelf up, all the vinegars/honeys/oils reside, basically in groups according to general identity, but they still muddle about when I'm not looking ( or is that dh and dd?)....soy sauce, etc. is on this shelf, too.

                                              It's not great, but for an old, poorly laid out kitchen, it does okay.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Beckyleach
                                                b
                                                Beckyleach Jul 25, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                Oh, forgot because it's a new addition: baking powder, kosher salt, Real salt, baking soda, and cinnamon are in bigger screw jars that stick on a magnetic strip, right below my measuring cups and spoons, next to the cart with my KA mixer and bowls, and above my pastry marble. This is my new "baking space" and I love it.

                                                1. re: Beckyleach
                                                  f
                                                  fjfagergren Mar 18, 2011 03:57 PM

                                                  We love our old Plochman's mustard jars! Has anyone see any available for sale?

                                                2. meatn3 Jul 26, 2010 04:53 AM

                                                  I keep the herbs I use most frequently lying on their side in a drawer handy to my stove and prep area, alphabetically. My "hot" spices are in the fridge - I had weevil issues with chili based spices several times over the years, so now they take up a chunk of real estate in one of the vegetable bins. My baking spices are with extracts, baking soda/powder, etc. in a cabinet. The other herbs/spices that are used infrequently are there too on one of those tiered/stepped things that has the back raised level. These are arranged by use/category and wedged in by size and stack-ability - a bit of a pain, but there are major space constraints. Being of short stature, my top shelves are for seldom used items. My back stock, larger Penzies bags and such is stored on a top cabinet shelf in a basket in alphabetical order. I keep a list of what is in the basket taped to the inside door of the cabinet as a memory aid.

                                                  I once had a gallery style kitchen with a floor to ceiling set of cabinets about 4" deep that were just behind me as I stood at the stove. Held everything, I could see everything, it was perfect. I miss that set up!

                                                  1. alkapal Jul 26, 2010 05:43 AM

                                                    here's how i organize mine: i put them on my four revolving tupperware lazy-susans in the cabinet near the stove, then lay some dried peppers in baggies on top of a couple of those, then fit in bottles and jars around those, then put indian store stuff in glass jars in another cabinet.

                                                    1. g
                                                      Greenygirl82 Jul 26, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                      I can't believe no ones said this... use a SpiceStack! It's an in-cabinet plastic organizer that holds about 27 spice bottles. Makes it really easy to find and grab what you need while cooking without making a complete mess every time. Check it out at SpiceStack.com and some Bed, Bath & Beyond stores.

                                                      1. boyzoma Jul 26, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                        Wow - some great feedback here. I love some of these ideas. They can be so varied. Please keep them coming!!!!

                                                        1. buttertart Jul 26, 2010 09:31 AM

                                                          I have mine in a drawer, ones bought loose or that I'm running out of in those half-saandwich-sized zip top snack plastic bags, alphabetized, in front. Those in bottles and the nutmeg grater are behind the bagged ones, also alphabetized. At least they were when I arranged them to begin with.
                                                          A huge improvement on the everything jammed willy-nilly into 2 old 13x9" pans stacked on top of each other that I had to haul both of out of the crammed cupboard to find anything in. One of those now holds all my chili peppers in a separate cupboard dedicated to ingredients.

                                                          1. MandalayVA Jul 26, 2010 09:34 AM

                                                            I attempt organization as I have one cabinet devoted to spices. I have a Rubbermaid lazy susan that I keep my spice jars on. The space next to it is where I keep my olive oil, salt, pepper grinder, etc. On the shelf above is where I keep my bags of bulk spices. I generally know where everything is but anyone unfortunate enough to go into it is just like "screw this, I'll just ask her to find it."

                                                            1. Axalady Jul 26, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                              I have a smallish kitchen and long ago ran out of room to keep the spices in drawers or in the cupboards. I bought a 3 tier wrought iron shelf (both useful and aesthetic) and have them up on the wall.

                                                              The bottles that are all the same size I have in alphabetical order. The larger spice boxes and larger and odd shaped containers I have on the deeper bottom shelf.

                                                              When I open a bottle of spice I write down the date on the label so there's no question how old it is.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Axalady
                                                                onceadaylily Jul 26, 2010 01:30 PM

                                                                The idea of a wrought iron spice rack really appeals to me . . . a spice rack has never really struck me as something I need, even though I mutter a quiet, "damn it" when I need something from the cupboard that is considered a third tier' spice (way in the back of the first shelf), like caraway seeds.

                                                                1. re: Axalady
                                                                  t
                                                                  tullius Jul 28, 2010 10:49 AM

                                                                  Dating is a great idea! Remember whole seed spices last much longer.

                                                                2. o
                                                                  occula Jul 26, 2010 12:57 PM

                                                                  At the stove, I have a rectangular wire basket, most commonly used spices in the front, rarely used in the back, hot and spicy on the left, italian on the right, dill in the middle. There's also an overflow area with a second pepper grinder because my husband didn't like the first one, a salt grinder, and a couple of extra things I got later or ... well, whatever!

                                                                  Exception: the cinnamon is in the cabinet above the coffeemaker where I keep the filters and such, because I always put a little cinnamon in with the grounds when I make coffee. 99 percent of our cinnamon consumption is via the coffee method.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: occula
                                                                    onceadaylily Jul 26, 2010 01:25 PM

                                                                    I keep my cinnamon next to the coffeemaker as well, along with the honey (I have a tea drinker in the house, and we have a designated 'hot beverage' section). I never thought that was odd until the boyfriend went through a cinnamon toast phase and grew irked when he couldn't find it in the cupboard. It had been next to the coffee maker for the last three or so years, illustrating the fact that the kitchen really isn't his domain, if he's that lacking in observation.

                                                                  2. JoanN Jul 26, 2010 01:43 PM

                                                                    I have floor-to-high as I can reach wire shelving, 18 inches wide four inches deep. Of course spices are in alphabetical order! How the hell else could you find what you were looking for? And zippered plastic bags containing bags of dried chiles, nearly a dozen of them, are hung, alphabetically, top to bottom, using binder rings clipped to the wire rack. Doesn’t everyone?

                                                                    I used to have a housekeeper who, even after being asked not to, would rearrange my spices just to let me know she had cleaned them. I fired her. Guess that doesn’t work with a husband, huh?

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                      LindaWhit Jul 26, 2010 01:46 PM

                                                                      The wire shelving is something I used to have on the inside of a pantry/cleaning closet in a rental unit I lived in back in the 1980s. It was WONDERFUL! The kitchen was tiny, but having all of this just steps away in another room was great.

                                                                      And I would have been P.O.'d at that housekeeper to rearranged the spice rack as well!

                                                                    2. pdxgastro Jul 27, 2010 12:31 AM

                                                                      Spices are meant to be kept in a cool, dry, dark place. That means nowhere near the stove.

                                                                      I have 2 boxes (actual cardboard) in the cupboard farthest away from the stove. One box is for savory spices, one box is for baking spices. It's a temporary solution but it works.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                        alkapal Jul 27, 2010 04:57 AM

                                                                        """Spices are meant to be kept in a cool, dry, dark place. That means nowhere near the stove."""

                                                                        hey, pdx, we know that. but we only have so much space. is it better i put it in the cabinet over the dishwasher? or the cabinet on the OTHER side of the stove? see?

                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                          buttertart Jul 27, 2010 05:54 AM

                                                                          Counsels of perfection. In my last place I would have had to keep them under the bed.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                            alkapal Jul 27, 2010 06:01 AM

                                                                            i do have some in a lower cabinet (though it is next to the oven), in glass jars, kept "together" in a plastic dish pan, but it is such a PITA to access/use them, that i find myself avoiding having to use them because of having to hunch down, then pull out the "tray", etc.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                              buttertart Jul 27, 2010 06:10 AM

                                                                              Have 4 drawers along the stove wall, the spices live in the 4th drawer, closest to the dining room. It's far enough for me.

                                                                        2. re: pdxgastro
                                                                          c
                                                                          Cathy Jul 27, 2010 07:00 AM

                                                                          Most kitchens have four sides. Saying "near" means on one of the sides perpendicular to the stove and not the side opposite the stove. I don't think anyone said they keep their spices OVER the stove, which is wrong.

                                                                          1. re: Cathy
                                                                            goodhealthgourmet Jul 31, 2010 09:28 AM

                                                                            "Most kitchens have four sides"
                                                                            ~~~~~
                                                                            actually, considering the proportion of urban/city-dwelling Hounds, i wouldn't say that. many of us have open kitchens with only 2 walls, or *teeny* galley kitchens in which the third wall is practically nonexistent (and there's not even enough room to open the oven or refrigerator door while standing directly in front of it). i've been forced in many homes to store my spices much closer to heat sources than i would have liked. i just moved into a new place two days ago, and FINALLY have a kitchen that allows me to store them a good 4 feet away from the stove.

                                                                          2. re: pdxgastro
                                                                            alanbarnes Jul 27, 2010 09:52 AM

                                                                            >>"Spices are meant to be kept in a cool, dry, dark place."<<

                                                                            Where, exactly, do you think spices come from? Someplace cool and dark like Scandanavia? Sorry, most spices grow in the tropics, which are well-known for being hot, bright, and damp. And I think it's safe to say that the per-capita consumption of spices in India, Thailand, and Mexico is a little higher than in, say, Canada.

                                                                            If you buy ground spices, you should definitely keep them in a cool, dark, dry place. They won't taste quite as bad as if you stored them over the stove. But they won't taste particularly good, either.

                                                                            Whole spices, on the other hand, are remarkably robust. And they taste better. Less fussy, better flavor - what's not to like?

                                                                            1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                              t
                                                                              tullius Jul 28, 2010 10:59 AM

                                                                              Over the stove, definitely a problem with hot steam rising. But in a drawer or cabinet probably not. Newer ovens have excellent insulation, mine is barely warm to the touch, plus there is the added insulation of the cabinet. And maybe your oven isn't anywhere near your stove/range top. :)

                                                                            2. thew Jul 27, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                                              i have one cabinet by where i cook and a small pull out near the stove.
                                                                              every random amount of time i get a bug up my as and loosely arrange them so my more commonly used ones are more accessible. then i let it all do what it likes until the bug crawls up again

                                                                              1. s
                                                                                SeoulQueen Jul 27, 2010 11:18 AM

                                                                                I have a double wide pull out drawer for my spices. When you open it, the spices are arranged alphabetically in small glass jars with labels on top. Salt and pepper mills are located next to the stove though since I use them non-stop.

                                                                                My husband has learned to put things back in alphabetical order and funny enough, he now gets more annoyed than me if a jar is in the wrong spot.

                                                                                1. boyzoma Jul 27, 2010 01:23 PM

                                                                                  These are so wonderful. DH and I are planning on remodeling our kitchen within the next year or so (if I can find a job) and am finding all these suggestions so helpful (and also verifying that I am not crazy). Please keep up the ideas.

                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                    Mestralle Jul 27, 2010 04:29 PM

                                                                                    I, too, have a very small kitchen and very limited storage space. I started out using the drawer next to the stove (I know, I know, cool and dark, but dark is the best I could do, and to be honest nothing in the kitchen except for the fridge is cool). Then I ran out of space and bought a cheap swivel countertop rack. I promptly dumped almost all of the "included" spices and replaced them with the spices and blends I use most frequently, since it's neither cool nor dark and I figured they'd hopefully get used up before they got too bad.

                                                                                    I did make a half-assed attempt to label and alphabatize, but I couldn't find decent labels, and the masking tape peeled off about half of them. So now I basically use what I can identify, and am trying to use up or identify the unknown blends with my not-so-famous "mystery scrambled eggs." (Shh, hubby doesn't know.)

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Mestralle
                                                                                      meatn3 Jul 27, 2010 05:34 PM

                                                                                      I have an inexpensive Brother P-Touch label maker. I use it with the clear tape for my spice jars. I frequently buy bulk spices at my natural foods store or purchase by the bag from Penzies, so a legible label is much needed!

                                                                                    2. corneygirl Jul 27, 2010 04:47 PM

                                                                                      I have knickknack shelves pounded into the wall. Small quantities are kept in labeled glass jars with cute red picnic cloth patterned lids. 1/2 of one shelf is all my baking type spices - gap - savory type spices (cumin, cayenne, etc). Second shelf 1/2 dried herbs - gap - misc little plastic jars of stuff. I also have a bin nearby where I put more rarely used spices and the remains in the little bag from the bulk bin if I buy too much. Finally all my pickling spices are rolled in their bags in a quart canning jar. Sounds more complicated than I thought ... I'll give SO a break when he doesn't put things back in the right spot!

                                                                                      1. c
                                                                                        calliope_nh Jul 27, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                                        I don't have much room but have my spices sitting in two lidless plastic boxs with 2" sides. I write the name of each spice on the lid of each jar so I can lift the box down and see what is there. The ones I use all the time are in front, the rest no special order except that one box has all single spices and the other box has some singles and some combos such as my favorite curry, Spike, Old Bay, etc.

                                                                                        1. Pia Jul 28, 2010 12:36 PM

                                                                                          We have shallow drawers next to the stove. We write the name of the spice with a Sharpie on the tops of our spice jars that aren't already labeled on top. We don't bother alphabetizing -- the ones we have used most recently move to the front, and it's easy to see at a glance what's in the drawer. For seldom-used spices, we probably should keep them in the fridge or freezer to preserve them, or better yet, buy as needed, but instead we have a box in the cupboard above the fridge.

                                                                                          Edit: somehow I didn't see Calliope's post -- we use almost the same system.

                                                                                          1. g
                                                                                            gfr1111 Jul 28, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                            I've never had a system that worked worth a darn for organizing spices. I have lots of spices and no room on the kitchen walls for the logical thing: wooden rails with spices in alphabetical order. Anyway, my girlfriend would never go for it, even if I had the space.

                                                                                            As a result, I have a semi-organized system in the pantry: multi-tiered white wire with plastic coating (like they put on dish drainers) attached to a wall. Most of the spices are here. Then I supplement this with one rail of primo spices in the refrigerator out in the garage. I refrigerate these (Pennzy's spices mostly) until they get somewhat elderly and then move them to the pantry where they reside with the McCormick's and other spices.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                              alkapal Jul 28, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                                                              a nursing home for elderly spices, now that's a funny idea! ;-).

                                                                                            2. r
                                                                                              riteus Jul 30, 2010 07:58 PM

                                                                                              I organize mine by "category" as it makes sense in my head. Each category gets a section in my pantry.

                                                                                              Savory Dried herbs and spices (caraway, fennel, cumin, coriander, sumac, etc.)
                                                                                              Sweet Dried spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla bean)
                                                                                              East Asian (soy sauces, vinegars, chili sauces, oils, five spice, star anise, sichuan pepper, white pepper, dashi, etc.)
                                                                                              Sub-continental Asian (mustard seed, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, tamarind, galanga, lemongrass, kaffir, fish sauce, garam masala, rose water, coconut milk, etc.)
                                                                                              Latin (dried chilies, Mexican oregano, epazote, achiote, etc.)

                                                                                              My fridge has sections of sauces, including Japanese misos, wasabi, kewpie, Korean bean pastes, more chili sauces, and usuals ketchup, mustards, pickles, horseradish, etc.

                                                                                              I have sections of oils, rice, pasta/noodles and a dedicated section just for my giant storage of tomato paste.

                                                                                              I don't have many "useless" spices since I go out of my way to use them up. My cooking is inspired by which spices/ingredients I have left and have targeted to use up.

                                                                                              1. Bada Bing Jul 31, 2010 09:53 AM

                                                                                                Your Dad's rack sounds great. I made my own, too, from frustration about how to store my many spices. I wanted them out of the light and accessible. I ended up building this pair of racks and attached them to the inside of my pantry doors (the zip-lock bags have things like leftover spice rub mixes and cinnamon sticks):

                                                                                                 
                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Bada Bing
                                                                                                  boyzoma Jul 31, 2010 10:43 AM

                                                                                                  Love your rack. Great idea, too. Way to go.

                                                                                                  1. re: boyzoma
                                                                                                    Bada Bing Aug 1, 2010 07:27 AM

                                                                                                    Thanks. I am glad finally to have found a satisfactory way of dealing with all those jars! Even still I have overflow, but not as much.

                                                                                                2. tcamp Jul 31, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                                                                  Poorly. Spices occupy two shelves in a cabinet next to the stove (small kitchen; nowhere else for them). One shelf is anything containing to or vaguely related to chili, including paprika, curry, taco seasoning, etc. The other shelf is everything else. The split is about even. My (mostly non-cooking) spouse arranged them this way and I've never felt energized enough to change. But some good ideas here!

                                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                                    mangetoutoc Aug 7, 2010 10:28 PM

                                                                                                    Fortunately, we have an adjacent dining area to our kitchen and my husband is very indulgent of my ever-growing collection of ingredients. He gave me the Ikea bookshelf (one of the open design 4-shelf 6+ footers) from his office to have easy access to all my stuff. Man, I dig him!

                                                                                                    As far as organization, I have a shelf for liquids, vinegars and the like, oils, etc. Then, there is the shelf for the in-use containers of spices and herbs, another for bins with back-up bags of bulk. Then, the last shelf is for the big/heavy toys like the lidded roasting pan, food processor, mortar and pestle, etc. Within the shelves, the closest to the stove and food prep area are the most commonly used items. Then the rest are put together by cuisines, so they're easy to grab when I'm getting everything together before cooking.

                                                                                                    1. wekick Aug 9, 2010 07:35 AM

                                                                                                      I am currently reorganizing. I have a 9x13 straight sided pan that I keep all my baking stuff in. vanilla,cinnamon, baking spray, baking powder etc. Everytime I bake I pull the tray out. I keep 1/2 tsp measuring spoons in some of those items.
                                                                                                      I did have a shallow drawer for spices but I am going to make a magnetic rack. The tins will be different sizes if need be but mostly 4 oz .
                                                                                                      http://www.papermart.com/Product%20Pages/Product.aspx?GroupID=14275&SubGroupID=14276&ParentGroupID=19037#14276

                                                                                                      http://www.magnetking.com/#psamagnet I am using thick out door adhesive

                                                                                                      There are other sources as well for kits
                                                                                                      http://www.custommagneticspicerack.com/

                                                                                                      1. JungMann Aug 9, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                                                        I need to do something because right now it is getting out of hand. I meant to buy a masala dabba for my Indian spices, but there is nothing adequate for the tiny amount of space I have unless I leave it out on the counter. Spice racks with empty bottles are just too costly for me right now as I'd need to buy several and line my entire backsplash with racks. Right now I keep my boxed spices which are typically Indian or North African to one side of the front cupboard. Spices I use in the fall and winter have been pushed to the back. Peppers are in front. Bagged spices, jarred seasonings and items typically used in Asian cooking are on the right. In front of boxes of Shan masalas. The shelf above is filled with wine glasses and just enough space for my coconut milk and sesame oil.

                                                                                                        I moved into an existing roommate situation with two people who are not huge cooks. When one moves out, I am re-arranging the kitchen to make things more sensible, although as it works out, we all know where everything is in the jumble. It's just a hassle when you have to pull everything out to get to the back of the cupboard. One of the many annoyances of living in New York.

                                                                                                        1. operagirl Aug 10, 2010 01:26 PM

                                                                                                          Having recently moved back in with my parents for my final year of grad school, I had a lot of spices to organize and sort through while combining our kitchen supplies. After throwing out a bunch of 10-year-old tarragon and the like, there were still too many spices to fit in the cabinet in any organized, usable way. My dad came up with the awesome solution of installing what would normally be a bathroom cabinet above the phone in our kitchen on the one bare section of wall. It is the perfect spice cabinet, and finally all of my spices are organized in alphabetical order and are readily accessible! You have no idea how happy this makes me.

                                                                                                           
                                                                                                           
                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: operagirl
                                                                                                            EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                                                                            Brilliant!

                                                                                                          2. buttertart Aug 11, 2010 06:07 AM

                                                                                                            My mother-in-law has her spices and herbs alphabetized and on little step shelves that I believe Rubbermaid or somebody similar made back in the day, in a cabinet directly above her cooking island. Also has the lesser-used ones and ones in bigger packages in the other side of the cabinet (it opens on both sides). Inventory control is pretty tight, however, was browsing for cracked pepper this last trip and found some seasoned cracked black pepper in the area with the bulkier packages - the copywright date on the label was 1975 and it was from McCormick's in Baltimore which I think hasn't been an operating plant since the '70's. The pepper wasn't too bad, actually!

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                              ellabee Oct 29, 2011 06:36 PM

                                                                                                              McCormick's plant was still perfuming the inner harbor in 1981, and I think stayed in production until the late 1980s, but that's still some well-preserved pepper...

                                                                                                            2. chefathome Mar 21, 2011 12:42 PM

                                                                                                              Just got home from another visit to some lovely specialty spice shops so had to pick up some more to add to my collection, bringing it up to nearly 100, most of which are whole spices as I like to grind them myself.

                                                                                                              I store mine in drawers (thankful to have a large functional kitchen) in categories. For example, I store all my expensive and exotic spices in separate drawers according to ethnicity. Others (i.e. McCormick's) are stored alphabetically; some of which are stored in old spice containers that I use so often I know precisely where each one is and recognize them by their lid colour.

                                                                                                              1. EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 02:40 PM

                                                                                                                I don't.

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