Organizing Your Dried Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices have been used since ancient times to heal, to preserve food, and to add wonderful flavors to dishes from all over the world. Such a time-honored tradition of use deserves a special place in the kitchen, one that makes them easily accessible. 

The professionals seem to agree that the real key is to have your spices where you’ll use them, whether that means they’re on a shelf, in a cabinet, or in a drawer. Your cooking style and preferences also offer clues as to how you might choose to organize and store them.

First Steps

  1. Make sure your herbs and spices are still fresh. If you can’t remember when you bought them, chances are they may be stale. Toss out herbs and spices that are more than 3 or 4 years old or if they don’t pass the sniff test — if the aroma is gone or just barely present, it’s time to throw them away. 
  2. Take note of which herbs/spices you use the most. Keep a list of commonly used spices taped to your fridge, so you have a place to make a note when you need to remember to refill something.
  3. When buying new herbs/spices, mark the date of opening on the container.

What About Containers?

Generally, dried spices and herbs come in little jars with a tiny opening that you can’t even fit a teaspoon into. You might try transferring your spices and herbs into small food containers. Label them with the name and date. If you prefer to transfer them into attractive larger jars, you can label the jar and stand them up inside a drawer.

However, many people prefer to keep their spices in the original jars that they come in.

Here are the pros and cons of each:

  1. Keeping your herbs and spices in the original jars.

    Pros: Less expensive, no extra work needed, and the label is already affixed.

    Cons: Those tiny bottles have tiny caps making it difficult to divvy out the right amount. Trying to do so often results in spills. Often these bottles come in slightly different shapes which can make it harder to store.

  1. Transferring your herbs and spices into larger jars or small food containers.

    Pros: Better for getting the right amount easily onto a spoon, more uniform in appearance.

    Cons: More expensive, more work. Labelling jars is time consuming.

Spice Rack? Lazy Susan? Drawer? Cabinet? Shelf? 

Herbs and spices can get lost in the shuffle when stored with other items. Even a shelf devoted to spices alone without an added organizer means that an eye view is lost. You may end up buying duplicate items as spices get pushed to the back so it’s a good idea to give them a special place in your kitchen. 

Herbs and spices are delicate in nature so housing them in the light will degrade them a bit faster than when they are in a darker area. You can still use that spice rack but try fastening it to the inside of a cupboard instead.

Whatever type of organizer you choose, the best type will allow you to view all your spices without any being obstructed.

Lazy Susan or auto measure carousel: A simple method of storing your spices and herbs is on a simple Lazy Susan for a small selection of spices or perhaps the ones you use most often. Or try an auto measure carousel. These usually come with 12 canisters on a rotating base which hold several ounces of spices and automatically measures a certain amount with a click. Some are even stackable which really is a space-saver.

Drawer organizer: One of the most popular ways of storing spices and herbs is laying them in a drawer. Your herbs and spices are very easy to see in this type of layout. You can buy a drawer organizer that allows you to separate them and keep them in place. 

Slide out drawer: This is a compact 2 or 3 tiered set of drawers that slide out easily –some of them pull out and lower to eye level. They can house up to 30 spices and accommodate differently shaped jars. This can sit on your counter top.

Cabinet spice rack organizer: This is a simple (usually) 3-tiered step-organizer for the inside of your cupboard, making it easy to find the herb or spice you need. Some are expandable.

Magnetic jars: Another popular option. These jars allow you to store your most colorful or most used spices and attach them to your refrigerator door or any flat metal surface. They have clear lids to make identification instantaneous.

Categorizing Your Herbs and Spices

It almost seems there are as many ways to organize and store your herbs and spices as there are spices themselves. 

Here are a few ways to group spices together that may work for you:

By use: If you bake, grill and cook with spices, you might be happiest dividing these up. Separate your grilling spices, your baking spices and your soup/stew herbs into different (or different parts of) drawers, racks or bins as needed.

By cuisine: If you like to experiment with different cuisines you may prefer to store your herbs/spices by the country’s spices – Mexican, Cajun, Italian, Indian etc.

By flavor and aroma: If cooking and baking is a real passion for you, and if you make your own recipes, try categorizing your spices and herbs by flavor and aroma — sweet, savory, salty, pungent. 

You can trust the trained, experienced technicians at C&W Appliance Service for all your appliance repair and maintenance needs. Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form for prompt, reliable service.

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