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Spice strategy?

I moved out of the country for a time and got rid of almost everything ... especially anything edible.

We FINALLY have a home and I'll be moving the stuff out of storage into our house.

I'm not looking for a spice rack, only a stragegy for storing spices.

I've had all sorts of spice holders/racks over the years and the never worked well ... either they take up too much counter or shelf space ... you have to use specific bottles which eventuall get lost and sort of let the spices go stale. The one consistant on spice racks, etc was they eventually landed in a yard sale.

Buying spice racks is like dating ... fpr the most part they seem great in the beginning ... but get tiresome or have some sort of flaw with familiarity.

To repeat ... I'm not looking for a spice rack. I'm looking for a spice system.

Freeform spice bottles and bags all over ... eh ... kind of too disorganized for me.

I'm sort of thinking of just one of those photo boxes. My last strategy was just devoiting a drawer to spices, but there was always something that didn't fit and other stuff got thrown in.

Any ideas?

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  1. On Good Eats Alton Brown has his spices in tins that stick with velcro to the inside of his cabinets.

    4 Replies
    1. re: zfalcon

      There's a magnetic version of that system here. The tins of spices are on the inside of the doors of the pantry cabinets -- the coolest or at least evenest-temperature part of the kitchen here (on the only wall without a heating line).

      Got the idea from a mention in a 1990s book on chef's kitchens, and must have had plenty of company, because there's a little online business that specializes in it: http://www.custommagneticspicerack.com That's where I got the magnetic strips that glue onto the cabinet doors and hold the tins. [twelve feet of 2-inch strips]. Knowing I needed a lot of tins, got elsewhere online a couple of little cases of square tins [two-inch and 1.5-inch]; so far am using about 25 of each. For labels, I write with a sharpie on a bit of masking tape.

      Backup supplies of some of the spices are in the freezer, in a shallow plastic container that holds labeled & dated plastic zip-lock bags, roughly alphabetically. In theory, there's a sheet somewhere in my kitchen binder that lists what's in there so I don't have to dig it out to see.

      Man, am I glad to be shed of rummaging through shoeboxes of jars... and jars generally.

      There are lots of other ways to rig a magnetic system. A good horizontal solution is a stainless baking sheet or two, on which stick tins [by means of magnetic strips glued to their bases]. It could live in a drawer, or on a shelf [cabinet or open; the tins keep the spices in the dark]. Would be a particularly good solution if the cool & dry conditions wanted for storage are at a distance from the prep area, because you can easily take the whole sheet to the prep area and back to its storage spot.

      1. re: ellabee

        I second http://www.custommagneticspicerack.com - I bought my magnets and tins from them. I got a range of sizes and magnets for I think 18 or 25 spices along with named label stickers.

        I keep them stuck to my fridge. It looks cool and they are in a convenient place in my tiny kitchen. I thought about inside of my cabinets but I wasn't sure if that would hold everything in a place I could reach (I'm pretty short).

        1. re: zaydia

          It is great being able to survey them all at once.

          A note for other interested chowhounds (clearly not the OP): windowed tins are not as good as solid-lidded; the plastic won't stand up to the corrosive effect of some ground spices, and even for whole spices the lids are looser-fitting (a particular issue for vertical setups) and more air-permeable than the solid lids.

          But tins with windows are outstanding as a way to corral tacks, screws, washers, and the gazillion other little hardware/household items that clog drawers and toolboxes. The SO was impressed with the spices-on-doors reorganization, but even more pleased to have the windowed tins left over from my false start...

        2. re: ellabee

          I have a similar set-up but not as formalized. Ikea has magnetic knife racks and metal tins which are a larger size. I have found other smaller tins which are smaller which work out well. I will keep the custom magnetic spice rack in mind for when I buy a home.

      2. I've been using a small desktop filer, with pockets for each letter of the alphabet, for the spices (most of them) that I buy in bags. Every bag is dated w/ purchase date, then filed alphabetically. The stuff in jars (maybe 20 +) are in two places - 10 on a step shelf on my counter (stuff I use all the time, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, pepper, greek seasoning from Penzeys, seasoning salt, etc) the rest are on a shelf.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jeanmarieok

          Oh this is good. Yeah, I'm going to have to seriously condemplate this one. Except for cinamon and the occasional stupidly cheap bottle of spice I come across, I usually buy small quantites in bags. I like the dating ideas also.

          1. re: rworange

            It's not elegant, but it's working for me!!

          2. re: jeanmarieok

            We also buy spices in little bags (from our food coop) and pin them (pins above the twist-tie, of course) to a bulletin board in the kitchen, in alphabetical order. The few items which come in jars are in a traditional cabinet, but are much less overwhelming.

          3. I don't know if this is enough of an improvement on your previous drawer experience, but: I keep a spice drawer if at all possible in the given kitchen, and I make it a wide, shallow drawer. All the spices go into jars of the same size (transferred from their bags, etc. - I'm usually buying spices in bulk), and I stick labels on the jar lids so that when I pull open the drawer, I look down and can easily see the all the labels. I try to keep them in roughly alphabetical order so it's easy to locate one. The strength of a drawer over a rack is that it offers automatic protection from light.

            I've bought good, squat little spice jars that fit well in a drawer inexpensively from Ikea. My mother uses the same strategy, and her spices are all in decades-old small Cara Mia artichoke jars, also squat enough to fit in a shallow drawer.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Yeah, marking the tops is a good thought. THat was one of the fatal flaws of my spice drawer. I had them mostly alpabetic but Had to pull them out to be sure and inevitabley mixed them up.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I use a same system to yours, after redoing the kitchen I devoted one deep drawer to spices which I transfer to 5 oz bottles I picked up at Ikea for $2,99 for 4 and mark on easily removable blue painters tape I put on the tops. The drawer is still deep enough to comfortibly hold some of the larger spice containers too. after a while you sort of instinctively know where everything is and it makes for a seamless system.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  For overflow less-used spices a nice 1950's copper-looking stainless breadbox does the trick for me. It's huge and holds a lot of bottles, has easy access with some step-up inserts, and can be placed in a cooler area away from the stove. Spice aromas stay contained as well.

                  Roam through an antique mall for ideas.

                2. http://www.tablefare.com/

                  I have the SpiceCare system from this company, and I quite like it. I have their original set which included more small jars, so I had to order extra medium and large jars, but their updated set has more of the larger sizes. It is super easy to use and reduces crazy spice jumble in the cupboard for spicy-cooks. I buy most of my spices in packets (like from the Indian grocer) and not usually in those McCormick bottles, so this system is most suitable for me and I would recommend it to other bulk spice/packet spice/ Asian-desi spice type cooks. It takes effort to set up by sticking all of your labels on and pouring your spices in, but after that, it really is an excellent and extremely efficient storage solution. I had a jumble of 99cents store bottles all at one level before that and getting one spice out involved digging. Now I just rotate my lazy susan and unlatch the spice I need, sometimes merely necessitating a move of the lazy susan to the counter top.

                  If you are more of a bottle person, I have seen other spice storage options, like the ones suggested in this thread in CH Cookware:


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    Thanks. Been there. Bought it. It didn't work for me. I really don't want a spice rack or similar thingy for all the reasons I mentioned. I've read the cookeware threads on spice racks, etc. I seriously don't want another. Thanks for the thought thogh. This probably worked better than most but like the otheres went to the yard sale.

                  2. I know you say you don't want a spice rack, but my wall-mounted unit has worked for me in
                    three small kitchens, freeing up precious counter and cabinet space. It has a solid door, decorated with a spice chart, so it hides the mishmash of containers I use. Smaller
                    quantities of "bulk" spices can be rolled up right in their plastic bags and slipped into a
                    standard size spice jar. Really big items go into a wire basket on the pantry shelf.

                    Unfortunately, it was a wedding gift more than 40 years ago so I have no idea where
                    it came from or if it's still available but you might be able to find something similar or
                    even "customize" something like a wooden medicine cabinet.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ferventfoodie

                      While I like that idea of the spices rolled up in a bag and put in the jars, another thing is that I've never seen a really attractive spice rack.

                      They just seem kind of corny ... or bulky ... or in the way. And I know people will pull of a gazillion attractive-to-them spice rack photos. But to me ... no. They are just not my thing.

                      I guess the $100+ spice rack that I sold at the yard sale for $2 did it for me. It looked cool at first. It swiviled and twirled and almost danced on the counter. The finish faded. The lids got lost.

                      From the first spice rack I remember my mom getting with her stash of S&H green stamps (it fell abort) to the last expensive gourmet one ... I just don't like spice racks in the long run

                    2. In our most recent (!) kitchen renovation, contractor put a shallow set of shelves at the end of island, with doors. Because shelves are adjustable height, and room for about 4, I can accommodate bags, bottles and jars ( about the depth of a small mason jars, which I use for more popular bulk purchases). Also means I can group according to use ( baking, curry, etc). It is brilliant, the best part of the reno.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: painperdu

                        That is brilliant! I bet you will never, ever have regrets about that. It is similar to how mine is organized (but not as good as your system). As I have over 90 spices (not to mention all my blends, rubs, etc.) it is hard for them to fit in the same area. So, I have drawers for my everyday spices and others for my exotic spices. There is one last drawer for all my dried chiles (I am a self-confessed hoarder when it comes to spices).

                      2. If you ever upgrade your kitchen, you can have a stepped unit put into a drawer which allows you to store spice jars. All of my spice jars are in the drawer. If it starts to overflow, then I need to get rid of some older spices. If I buy good spices in bags, I often keep them in the freezer door.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Funny about upgrading--I did a reno 3 years ago, but kept the 1970s spice drawer with the stepped unit. Had never seen one like it, and it works beautifully. It's sadly still not big enough for all my spices, but all the jars go there and the bags on a lazy susan. The other vintage 1970 feature that was great and I saved: vertical slots above the oven to hold all those baking sheets and oversized platters.

                          1. re: pine time

                            I find spice racks too fiddly. But I like the drawer with the stepped unit. This is my favorite way to store spices.

                            1. re: pine time

                              I've never had a spice storage option before (residence, rentals, lame kitchen, blah, blah) so when we finally renovated our owned kitchen, I thought, "yes, spice racks." But the need for a pantry got in the way and won out. The only cupboard door left that would hold racks was too narrow. Argggghhh. Not to be defeated I found heavy duty wire shelving from Lee Valley that was narrow but two-standard spice jars deep. I have five of them on the inside of the door of the tall cupboard. Yes, you have to attach them so maybe not okay for the OP but damned if they aren't a better solution than the single layer spice racks I had coveted. I can organize each shelf by theme (sweet spices, hot spices, savoury spices, herbs, whatever) and alphabetize within so the two layers are only a minor inconvenience. Best of all, I'm not limited to the standard jar size. I can put that big ol' jar of bay leaves my friend dried for me from his garden right in there. And that stupidly shaped box of food colouring has finally found a home! Also because they are separate units, we could mount them farther apart vertically to accomodate tall skinny jars that fell over in the wire-rack pull out pantry. Loves it.

                              +1,000,000 on the vertical storage for oddly sized/shaped flat things. My SO designed and built all our cabinetry and he built me those slots above the pantry. My cutting boards floppeth not over! To ice the cake, he made a similar grid for all my frying pans, so no more stacking/scratches in the non-sticks.

                            2. re: sueatmo

                              You can buy the spice insert for drawers readymade, no need to wait for a kitchen reno unless you don't currently have a spare drawer to put it in:





                              A plus of course is that they are lift out/bring with, for renters. Assuming of course that the drawers in the next rental (or kitchen) are at least as wide as the former were.

                              The problem with any of these inserts is, naturally, the capacity. I'd need at least 2 standard width drawers to hold the same number of spices that currently live in my slim 3-shelf upper cabinet arrangement. On second thought... make that probably 3 drawers.

                              I am on the same page as the OP, tried the various spice racks in the past and didn't like any of them. That was also before I knew that spices should ideally NOT be exposed to light, LOL.

                            3. I use shallow plastic bins about half the height of a spice jar. The sit in a shelf under the counter, and one holds herbs, one holds spices, and the other holds spice mixes and peppers.

                              I use either the jars the spices came in, or fill jars from bagged spices, and the bins hold different shapes. I use sticky labels on the top, with the name of the spice and a mark to indicate if it's ground or whole. That way, when I look in I can quickly see what I want, or I can pull out the bin onto the cupboard easily to get what I want. Keeping it under the counter keeps it cool and dark.

                              I then have another box that holds refills and larger containers, empty jars, and a few oddball things that don't get used very often (and the doubly wrapped asafoetida) and stays in the storeroom until needed. To refill jars, I use a bit of paper twisted into a funnel, which lets me fill the jar easily but doesn't need washing.

                              I have somewhere between 40 and 50 different spices and herbs, if you include both ground and whole forms.

                              1 Reply
                              1. The ex-bf bought a bunch of the tiny gladware plastic storage containers for bulk spices, and they got stacked alongside jars in on a shelf in the cupboard. The most frequently used ones were on the lowest shelf or by the stove. When I moved to a kitchen less than half the size, I finally labelled those storage containers, and tossed out what I couldn't identify or what I knew I wouldn't use. Unfortunately, they don't stack so well. The small containers ensure that I only buy as much as I'll use before they go stale, too. I know, not much of a strategy, but I'm not much of an organizer.

                                1. I use watchmaker's kits (G, in the link below at Lee Valley) to store small amounts of spices for kitchen use. The large bottles/bags/tins go in a box in a cool closet. They stack nicely and the spices are stored alphabetically. I just label with a marker on the glass lid. Replenishment happens about every 1-2 months, depending on the spice. I've been told by an indian friend that they use a similar system, but the containers are larger (since they use more spices) called a masala dabba.


                                  1. I use what amounts to a small bookcase with 6 shelves, each as tall as a large spice container and holding about 15-20 bottles per shelf. I had a carpenter friend build it for me.It fits nicely on a kitchen counter which is positioned between my stove and refrigerator, so that the spice rack can be up against the side of the refrigerator. This is the only rack I've ever had that gives me easy access to all all my spices.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: strangemd

                                      I don't want a spice rack. I don't want to build anything. Anyone else who offers a spice rack or built-in system will get this answer.

                                    2. Well you say you don't want a rack, but you are thinking of a photo box. And you want a strategy -- do you mean a system to find a certain spice easily, or a system to make sure the old spices get used up on time, replaced? If you have a system/strategy I don't see how that can be divorced from a *place*, a shelf/box/drawer. I don't mean to be dense, but can you explain further?

                                      I refuse to take stuff out of one jar and put it in another, so of course I have the usual assortment of tall, short, plastic bags, cardboard containers, glass extract bottles, so I just keep them all in a clunky corny front-opening dollhouse haha that I built from a kit and decorated to look "Mexican". It's a roomy thing. I keep a map, too. The "map" is a system I suppose -- it shows me for example that the extracts are in the back on the top floor, the black pepper is on the bottom floor, front right. This system only works if I put the spices back in the right places -- ha!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: blue room

                                        I am certainly not going to be so much of a grouch as to complain about your cute little house thing. That isn't my own style, but I'll give you cute.

                                        THe difference is, if I use a photo box, if that doesn't work for me I can use it for other purposes if it doesn't work out. Labeling bottles on the top in any old drawer doesn't require much more of an investment of time and a few labels.

                                        I move a lot. I'm more surprised I stayed as long as I did in the two places before I moved out of the country. For years when I shopped, I would look at something and ask if I wanted to move this in a few months. It was enough for me to put it back usually

                                        I realize that everyone has a lot of cool things that work for them. But this was supposed to be the anti-cookware thread. And here I am on cookware.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Haha somehow I knew that wouldn't be your style.
                                          Top labeled spices in a sturdy-enough box is an excellent idea.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            If one of your major criteria is that your system is easy to move the photo file idea seems the most portable. As long as you don't mind keeping spice/herbs in plastic bags.

                                        2. I don't know if this will help you, but for me....

                                          First, I separated my list into spices and herbs. Then, I made a note next to them if fresh (herbs) or whole (spices) would be better. For example, the dried chives got thrown out. Then, I looked at the infrequently used ones, and went to my local whole foods and natural stores to see if they were available there to purchase in small quantities, as needed. When all was said and done, I had a small tray of fresh herbs on the window sill and have made arrangements to install magnetic strips on the inside of a cabinet door. This will allow me to have uniform containers, with the option of having larger/deeper ones for, say, cinnamon sticks. As they are magnetic, I can move them around to if I need to re-alphabetize them. I label the tops of the containers with a pen, and as the lids are glass, I can easily see when needs restocking.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: E_M

                                            I'm renting. I cant be touching the cabinets with anything.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Unless your fridge isn't magnetic you can store spices in the magnetic containers E_M mentions on it instead of installing the strips. Like the drawer system, they can be arranged alphabetically and within easy reach.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                Oh, good grief. Get yourself one of those over the door shoe holders. Plastic slots that will hold your spices, bags, etc. You don't want a rack, you don't want a counter top thing, well. And, when you move again you can just roll the thing up like a sleeping bag.

                                                Just an idea. I personally have a pantry door with top to bottom wire racks that hold all the Penzey spices, herbs, odd glass jars and bags. Extracts, rubs, etc. Vinegars. The whole lot.

                                                1. re: breadchick

                                                  Sold all that over the door crud in the last garage sale. Never had luck with magnets on the fridge.

                                                  Listen, don't "oh good grief me". I should be saying that. I specifically asked for ideas that did NOT involve spice racks. When this was on the General Board I got some of those. If people didn't have any info to add, I don't know why it frustrates anyone that I don't want a spice rack. I said that from the beginning.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    Short of being able to blink spices out of the air like I Dream of Jeannie I don't know what'll work.

                                                    If you don't possess magical powers and you're losing lids perhaps something like these from Tupperware would work? http://order.tupperware.com/coe-html/... The lids open two ways, one end with holes, the other wide open and they come in a few different sizes-the spices I buy in bulk fit in the bigger ones, they're thin, stackable(but not inexpensive). I label mine with a sharpie and simply stack them in the cupboard.


                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      For years I've been a fan of those Rubbermaid lazy susans. I have three two-tiered ones that store most of my herbs & spices, food coloring & flavorings in pretty strict alphbetical order. The "spares" and things I don't use often are in the center of the trays. I've got other, single layer lazy susans of varying diameter in a corner cupboard where my oils and vinegars and the large bottles of herbs are. I like that if the oil bottle leaves any residue all I have to do is wash out the tray. Fragile spices are in the freezer. I also buy most of my spices in small quantities and just pour them into the bottle. I mostly have old Spice Islands bottles--I like the size and design--and a few tins that are also under 3". This has worked for me in many kitchens over the years. Organized, out of sight so the ugly factor isn't an issue, and when you move they break down flat and can go right into your spice box. Just a thought.

                                              2. Since you are re-establishing your pantry and prior posts indicate that cooking is not your primary pursuit of happiness, I'm suspecting most of your spices/herbs will be purchased in smallish quantities.

                                                If so, especially if they are in little zipbags, you might be able to use a loose leaf binder.
                                                Sheet protectors, zippered pencil bags, pocketed divider pages - all are options that could corral and organize the little bags.

                                                On the topic of little bags, I have quite a few sizes left from a stint selling gemstones. These are the handiest thing to have around. I use them constantly. Bead shops often sell them by the bundle at a good price.

                                                I'm glad you posted this. Spice organization is always tricky for me. I find I have to adapt my system to each new kitchen. Right now I'm mainly storing in drawers. I'm moving soon (knock on wood) to a place with few drawers, more cabinets so I'll need to revamp the system again. I'll be following this with interest!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                  Really great. Thanks. I cut and pasted into the new topic

                                                  Yeah, I don't cook much, but I get enmoured with spices that I can use sprinkled over stuff and for occasional cooking stints ... and I can never pass up that 25 cent spice bottle at Grocery Outlet.

                                                2. Hi-
                                                  I'm a retired librarian, so I'm really into organization - my spices included. To keep them organized, I use one of those old card catalog multidrawer units (natch!) that I bought at a used furniture/junk shop. The drawers are big enough to accept the various sizes of spice containers, bags, bottles and tubes. The multidrawer units are portable, and (if you are lucky) nice pieces of furniture.

                                                  Good luck!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Fwahgrah

                                                    That is awesome! Are they categorized alphabetically?

                                                    Eric (present librarian)

                                                    1. re: Ryan Goldschlager

                                                      Oh, yeah. But I occasionally have trouble with things like "peppercorns, green" vs. "green peppercorns", or "anise, star" vs. "star anise". Usually I stick with Melvil Dui' system.


                                                    2. I use a two-tiered Rubbermaid turntable. I can store spices in their original bottles, bags, etc. and separate by category then just spin to find what I want. I store this in a small cabinet. I also DO use a photobox in my pantry for baking spices, it's next to my flour, sugar, baking powder and other baking staples.

                                                      The turntable can also be used to store medicines, vitamins and supplements that are used regularly if you choose not to use it for spices. Good luck!

                                                      1. Hi rworange,

                                                        My system, which I have used for years, works great for me!

                                                        Like lseavey. I use double-decker turntables, but I use two (2) of them, side by side on a shelf at eye level. They are probably just Rubbermaid, about 11" diameter, and the height between the shelves is 5". I use the 4.5" jars, like the ones from McCormick. which I have saved over the years, and I can refill them from bags, or larger containers if I want, or just re-purchase.

                                                        On one of the double turntables I put all my 'pure' (not mixed) herbs spices., I place those that I might use with savory (e.g. thyme, basil, oregano) on the bottom and in general those that I might more likely use with sweet (e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, cream of tarter, baking powder) on the top shelf.

                                                        On the other turntable, on the bottom shelf, I put my mixes (e.g. my favorite blackening mix, my steamed crab spice, chile powder, celery salt), along with 'hot' things (e.g. red pepper flakes, peppercorns).

                                                        On both of these, if I have taller containers, they go on the top shelves!

                                                        Hope this gives you some ideas for your own system!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Regardless of wether you choose a drawer, cupbaord, or wall mounted shelves,(iuse a combo of the last teo in my small kitchen) the one strategy I find most helpful is to group my spices by cuisine. (Italian=basil, marjoram, parsely, etc) Indian= Corriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masla, you get the idea.

                                                          Personally, I have a variety of old spice bottles that help me tell spices apart because the tops tend to be different colors or shapes. this works good for the ones in the cupboard that are all at eye level. The ones on the wall shelf are easy enough to locate by the name on the front.
                                                          I buy spices in bulk or at the Indian market (sold in bags) and refill the bottle from these. All the surplus spices get stored in a old cookie tin in a closet (remember to keep them cool and dry to preserve flavor)

                                                          While it may appear a bit chaotic, the botom line is I can find any of my spices quickly and easily. That's key if your an add them as you go type of cook like me.

                                                          1. I keep all my spices in one of the small narrow cabinets that flank the window over my kitchen sink. It has 3 shelves and the cabinet is angled so that it goes to a sort of point in the back.

                                                            The lowest shelves have the spices that I use most regularly (daily basis). The middle and upper shelves are split alphabetically (starting with the A spices on the top shelf). I did, however print out a list of what is on which shelf and fastened it onto the inside of the cabinet door (just to make sure I remember what I already have, LOL).

                                                            I like the location because it's within arms length of the cooktop and part of the countertop, and of course because it is a solid wood door keeps the spices in the dark. All spices are in glass jars with tight fitting lids (I don't buy bags).

                                                            I buy different spices from specific places and many of the jars are of varying sizes and shapes. Would never work in one of those carousel things because I can't see bothering to "decant" spices from the perfectly good jars they came in.

                                                            1. I took down the wall in the pantry. The one with nothing behind it. And then I inserted an 8inch deep stainless steel set of shelves that reach almost to the ceiling. The bottom two shelvers are tall enough to keep the jug of olive oil, leftover wine in their bottles and fish sauce. Then I put the rest of the shelves closer together for spice jars. Some for the small IKEA ones, or the standard super market ones, and some larger ones [bon maman jam jars actually.] There is a shelf just for extracts. And then the shelves for chili peppers which all stand upright in their original plastic bags.

                                                              I have NEVER found a solution off the shelf that worked for my eclectic collection and this works. I don't plan to leave this house anytime soon so the investment in this "rack" is perfectly acceptable to me. The cost of the shelves was the greatest of the costs. The sheetrock that I installed and the touch up paint used up some leftover bits I already owned.

                                                              1. I am on Spice System 3.0.

                                                                All used the same organizing scheme: Chili (powders, flakes,etc) first then everything in alphabetic order: Allspice to Za'atar. Mexican Oregano and Greek Oregano were stored as "O" spices. Black, white, green, red pepper was under "P", though in time, the black and white pepper were religated to bulk storage.

                                                                Scheme one was all spices in Penzey or Spice House bottles and then in a drawer. Problem: these bottles, while simple and fuctional, had lids with a larger diameter than the bottle resulting in a less than great fit in the drawer. Also, most spices don't need that big a bottle. Not enough room.

                                                                Scheme Two (shown) was the coolest by far. The spices became a visual feature of our loft. The racks and spice bottles were purchased separately at World Market. A label was printed and put on the cap of each spice, orignally intended to face out. We faced them in instead to fully show the color of an 80 spice collection. Problerm: though these were well removed from direct sun, you could see the distinct color fade of certain spices over time.

                                                                Scheme Three. All spices stay in the plastic packages they were purchsed in and then filed in a plastic tub. Seems to be working OK and kinder on spices than scheme two, but if we still lived in downtown Chicago, I'm certain we'd stick with scheme two.

                                                                1. I have come up with a system that I'm quite happy with. First I started out with a narrow drawer devoted to spices - just so happened that standard spice jars fit perfectly standing up. (Frankly, those spice inserts where the bottles are angled severely limit the number of bottles one can fit). It was a great solution, but my spice assortment grew and I wanted to figure out how to fit a larger variety in the same amount of space. My theory was that certain spices are used in such small quantities or somewhat infrequently that having a "standard" size bottle of it is wasting space. So, what I yearned for was a super skinny jar that was the same height as the larger bottles. I found them at a science store - glass vials with lids. Bingo - they were perfect. Then I created new labels, colour coded for different groupings. Chili/pepper based, mixtures/blends, herbs, seeds, etc. I do have any overflow stored elsewhere, and refill as needed.

                                                                  A picture is worth a thousand words.....

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: bigos70

                                                                    Similar to you - with the same reasoning - purchased labels at a dollar store - 2 drawer unit in an under the counter shelf.

                                                                    1. re: bigos70

                                                                      That looks fabulous. I just moved in this weekend so haven't started working on the spices yet. Even if I don't use the exact same system, I LOVE the idea of color coding the labels. I never thought of that ... and I thought I had got all the ideas I was going to get.

                                                                    2. I use the inside of the door to my pantry, and put narrow shelves on the door at various height intervals to hold assorted spice containers. Those could be store containers or jars that I use to transfer from bulk plastic envelopes.

                                                                      I found narrow wood shelves and used mostly those, and then ended up adding a few Elfa shelf baskets that mount over the top of the door for things that needed deeper storage depth. People gawk in amazement at my spice storage when they watch me cook. It is really the most convenient thing for me. The pantry is dry and cool and dark -- another plus.

                                                                      I have never found a uniform type of jar or storage system that works, because my spices range from super small sample size jars, to specially purchased Penseys in different sizes, to warehouse club size containers. I also have boxes, and envelopes and tins. It all depends on what the spice is, and some things I purchase in large volume, and others, extremely small amounts. I don't think they could make a drawer that would neatly hold all of the assorted sizes of containers I have, unless it was very deep.

                                                                      1. I use a two-tier stainless steel lazy susan / turntable and put my spices on that, on one of the shelves in my kitchen. It makes it easy to access all the spices, and it doesn't matter what sort of container they are in. My spices are stored in re-used jam jars, plastic containers, and metal tins.

                                                                        The turntable I use is made by RSVP