How to organize your spices


An organized spice drawer

If you are like most casual cooks, your spice cupboard is a jumbled mess. If you can’t find the spice you need, how can you use it? Consider taking the time to clean up and organize your spice collection. It will make for a more enjoyable cooking experience.

Discard old spices

First, you should sort through the spices and remove anything that is no longer fragrant. If you can’t smell it, it probably won’t add much flavour to your cooking. If it has been there long enough that you don’t remember when you bought it, discard it.

Discard anything you don’t like

If you hated coriander the one time you used it, why keep it? If you only use fresh parsley, why keep the jar of dried parsley? Remove anything that won’t be used in your cooking.

Decide on an organization system

How would you like to sort the remaining spices? Do you have baking-only spices? Would it be easier to find things if you sort them by cuisine (Thai, Indian, Italian, etc.)? There is always the option of alphabetical order (“Salt, fine” before “Salt, Hawaiian”).

Select appropriate containers

While it may be tempting to keep spices in their original jars, it is more difficult to store different-sized jars without wasting a great deal of space. Uniform jars will generally make the best use of the space you have.

Consider the available space when choosing a jar size. I find four-ounce jelly jars a good fit for my drawers, with the added bonus that the lids and bands can be replaced when they wear out.

Fill and label your containers

Many spices look alike, so label your jars as you transfer the spices to the new container. Since I place my spice jars into my kitchen drawers, I put the label on the lid so it can be seen easily when I open the drawer. By using a label maker that allows waterproof labels, the labels will last longer and hold up better to their use in the kitchen. (The lids can even go through the dishwasher without losing the labels!) I don’t recommend the chalkboard-type labels since the writing comes off so easily when handled.

Put the spice jars into their new home

When you are done filling your containers, sort them according to your desired system and put them away. Remember, you can always sort them differently if the current system proves too complicated.

Happy cooking!