It’s time to address your spices! Whether you’re a cooking novice or culinary expert, everyone has a spice collection. And in that collection are spices that are very old and spices you’ve never used. Time to purge and organize!
There’s a lot of different information out there for how long spices last and it can be difficult to throw away those costly little jars. Here is a nice guideline from McCormick that is far more generous than most. Of course, if the spice doesn’t smell good, don’t keep it. Some other reasons to toss :
- You bought or were gifted a set of spices and there are ones you NEVER use.
- If you can’t remember the last time you used that spice, it’s probably got to go.
- If you know those spices were a housewarming gift when you moved in, 8 years ago or you moved with them…more than once.
Now you’ve purged and it’s time to store. Where do you keep your spices — cabinet, drawer, pantry, counter top? Regardless of where you store them, there are tools to help you better organize them like racks, turntables, graduated stands, etc. And maybe now that you’ve cleaned out your pantry and kitchen drawers, you might choose to move them to a more convenient location. The only thing I don’t really recommend is a counter top rack. Unless you have zero cabinet or drawer space left, a spice rack takes up a lot of space and many of those spices are rarely used so it’s not worth the real estate the rack takes up. Here are some thoughts on organizing your spices:
- Split them up! When organizing, I preach, “Like with like,” but you can keep your most used herbs and spices close to where you use them and specialty jars farther away.
- Label! You may already alphabetize them, but if they’re stored with the labels obscured, label the lid.
- Date them! Get your Sharpie and notate when you bought/opened the jar. You can even write the date for when you want to toss it.
- Transfer them! Depending on the brand you buy and where you store, the opening may not be large enough for even the most basic measuring spoons (especially the fantastic looking test tube set from Dean & Deluca). Get larger, wide mouth containers for spices you always open and usually measure. Or it’s just larger to get your own “pinch.” Also, if you rarely shake spices into a dish, remove the shaker. It’ll save you time so you don’t have to pry it off each time you go to measure.
- Share! Do you have a friend you swap recipes with? Consider splitting jars of spices so you use them up while they’re fresh and aren’t throwing away as much (or wasting money). It’s easy and inexpensive to get small glass jars or metal tins.
Happy Organizing (and cooking)!