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How do you organize your spice rack/cupboard?

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!

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        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. 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

        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. 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. 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

            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. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

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