Spices of Life

My super-organized cousin is back again to share how she organizes her spices. 

A few weeks ago a neighbor asked me how to go about organizing the spices in her kitchen. She, like many of us, had collected a variety of spices beyond the usual parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and the storage and organization of these various bottles, jars and cans has become an issue.

Years ago I had the same issues in my kitchen so I came up with this system to eliminate the problem. Here’s what works for me:

  • Buy spices in bulk if available. This eliminates packaging waste and you can purchase just the amount you need.
  • Buy one style of container and decant all of your dried spices into them. Buy a few extras so you’ll have them on hand when you need to add a new spice to your collection. I like clear glass bottles with screw on lids – these are a great choice. 
  • Label all of your spice jars either on the top if you choose to store them standing up in a drawer, or on the side if they are stored in a pantry or cupboard.
  • Organize spices alphabetically.
  • Put a removable or reusable wipe-off sticker on the bottom of each spice jar with the expiration date of each spice. Most spice companies will date their spices for freshness.
  • If you’ve purchased a bit more spice than will fit in your jars, store it in small zip top bags, label with the variety of spice and expiration date and store in the freezer.

I keep the spices I use everyday - oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme - on my kitchen counter in a tray by my stove. I also keep a variety of salts and peppers on another tray along with bulbs of garlic, olive oils and vinegars, and I have two pots of fresh herbs on my kitchen windowsill.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you in your own kitchen. Remember to select a container and labeling system that work for you and stick with it. Soon, you’ll find it’s fast and easy to have a pinch of fresh herbs and spices at your fingertips.