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Arrgggh! How to store spices?


abadoozy
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I have those little jars of herbs/spices stashed in no fewer than 4 places around my kitchen and pantry - the very-common spices in small jars from Penzey's, nicely labeled and stored in a drawer. A big plastic bin of the secondary spices (whole peppercorns to fill the pepper grinders, cinnamon sticks, etc) stashed in a cupboard. Refills for the small jars in the drawer in plastic envelopes on a shelf in the pantry. And another box in the pantry with dried chilies and other "big" spices that don't fit anywhere else.

And I just remembered, a bowl on the counter with a bunch of samples sent to me by a friend.

Does anyone have a good system to store way-too-many spices? I do go through them all, they're not old or forgotten or anything like that. But I have too many to fit in any sort of commercial rack. I'm wondering if there's some sort of nice case or box that would hold, say, 50+ small jars.

And, of course, I've got my eye on all the stuff necessary for Modernist Cuisine projects. So add in another 10 or 15 jars of various thickeners, transformers, spherification agents, etc.

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I have the same problem.

What I did was keep the leaf-type herbs in the deep freezer and I placed the other spices in a small bottles with the names on the top and put them in a three drawer plastic shelving unit in a cabinet. When I pull out the drawer I can read what's in the bottle from the label on top.

I put the larger bags of spices (which I use to refill those small bottles) in triple zip-locked bags in a box in the coolest part of the kitchen (under the sink), so it's out of the way. This system works for me.

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I have a large cupboard with three shelves for spices. Top shelf has all the half open and unopened bags for refills. Middle shelf has jars of spices ready to be dipped into and used. Bottom shelf has dried herbs and a few spices that I don't use much - these are mostly my Dad's and are for non-Indian cookery.

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I store those small jars in a drawer too but I use a paint marker to label the tops of them so I can tell at a glance what I have. I keep refills/bulk spices in a box in a high cabinet, those spices that I have refills for are marked with an X on top so I know I can refill it. If I was really good... I had a computer program to track my inventory.

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I have something similar to these:

http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Magnetic-Spice-Rack-Decanters/dp/B001QSALF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299607474&sr=8-1

---literally 135 of them stuck on the side of my refrigerator. They are magnetic on the back. The edge of the lid screws around to expose a slot for pouring or some holes for sprinkling. Or you can of course take the lid off for measuring. The whole lot is alphabetized, I find that's easier than dividing spices up into categories. I've used a labelmaker to label each one across the front. The capacity of each can is 4 ounces, so I try to only buy what will fit in the can so I don't have bags everywhere.

Then I have some of the MC chemicals in the fridge and freezer. I have lots of frozen herbs in the freezer. I also have a box in the pantry full of the loose bags of spices that I do have. Lastly I have a rack on the wall of the pantry that holds big bottles of mostly spice mixes. The magnetic cans have cut down significantly on the amount of shelf and drawer space that is occupied by spices.

In my first house, these were on the side of the fridge. Second house, on 2 stainless steel plates screwed to the kitchen wall. Third house, front of the fridge. Fourth house, steel plates on inside door of pantry. This house, side of the fridge again.

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One of the gee-whiz features that caught our attention when we bought our house is a built-in, swing-out spice rack:

626805210_TW5pX-M.jpg

Now, don't ask me to show you what's behind that rack. It's chock full of more herbs & spices.

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If I was really good... I had a computer program to track my inventory.

You and me both. I'm a software developer, and I've been pondering throwing together a smart phone app that tracks my spices - could even bar code them! Now, is that a sign of a dedicated home cook, or just pure obsessiveness?

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I have something similar to these:

http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Magnetic-Spice-Rack-Decanters/dp/B001QSALF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299607474&sr=8-1

---literally 135 of them stuck on the side of my refrigerator. They are magnetic on the back. The edge of the lid screws around to expose a slot for pouring or some holes for sprinkling. Or you can of course take the lid off for measuring. The whole lot is alphabetized, I find that's easier than dividing spices up into categories. I've used a labelmaker to label each one across the front. The capacity of each can is 4 ounces, so I try to only buy what will fit in the can so I don't have bags everywhere.

If I hadn't already invested in a whole pile of Penzey's jars (and labelled them) I'd be tempted to go with this solution. But after buying all these jars, I'd rather not change unless I can't figure out anything else.

Then I have some of the MC chemicals in the fridge and freezer. I have lots of frozen herbs in the freezer. I also have a box in the pantry full of the loose bags of spices that I do have. Lastly I have a rack on the wall of the pantry that holds big bottles of mostly spice mixes. The magnetic cans have cut down significantly on the amount of shelf and drawer space that is occupied by spices.

In my first house, these were on the side of the fridge. Second house, on 2 stainless steel plates screwed to the kitchen wall. Third house, front of the fridge. Fourth house, steel plates on inside door of pantry. This house, side of the fridge again.

Heh, what's becoming increasingly apparent in this thread is that I'm not the only one with 5 different spots in the house for herb/spice storage.

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LOL. Even Hennes can't solve your problem then.

Hey man, have a little faith!

Do you have any cabinet space to spare, or can you arrange some? They sell drawer inserts for cabinets (or you can build one if you are handy), and if you also label the tops of your spice jars you can squeeze quit a few in a full-depth bottom cabinet.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Another thing to do if you have any free wall space at all is to remove the wallboard and build into that small space in the wall interior. This is what my DH has done. little spice cupboard.JPG

(Contents are currently in transition and of course, this little cupboard doesn't begin to hold everything.)

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Here's the solution I built. Holds 56 spices, although right now my top shelf is in disarray. I'm using jars with a clear top so you can see how many are left, and I've got them in alphabetical order so it's super-easy to find whatever I'm looking for. It's definitely made a big difference in how often I use spices. When it was a pain to dig out a bag or bottle from who-knows-where, I sometimes just wouldn't bother. Now not only can I find them all, but I can also just look through and get new ideas from having everything right in front of me!

And no, my kitchen doesn't defy gravity. I can't figure out how to rotate the picture.

photo.JPG

Edited by peterm2 (log)
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I have something similar to these:

http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Magnetic-Spice-Rack-Decanters/dp/B001QSALF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299607474&sr=8-1

---literally 135 of them stuck on the side of my refrigerator. They are magnetic on the back. The edge of the lid screws around to expose a slot for pouring or some holes for sprinkling. Or you can of course take the lid off for measuring. The whole lot is alphabetized, I find that's easier than dividing spices up into categories. I've used a labelmaker to label each one across the front. The capacity of each can is 4 ounces, so I try to only buy what will fit in the can so I don't have bags everywhere.

This is my solution too, but the tins run pretty expensive (I've seen them in Australia for AUD$75 for 6!!) so I came up with a cheap hack; ordered a case of 50 glass-topped bomboniere tins from a wedding supply store for something like $20 (like these), and some rare earth magnets from an electrical/hardware store. Didn't even require gluing the magnets onto the tins.

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I have something similar to these:

http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Magnetic-Spice-Rack-Decanters/dp/B001QSALF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299607474&sr=8-1

---literally 135 of them stuck on the side of my refrigerator. They are magnetic on the back. The edge of the lid screws around to expose a slot for pouring or some holes for sprinkling. Or you can of course take the lid off for measuring. The whole lot is alphabetized, I find that's easier than dividing spices up into categories. I've used a labelmaker to label each one across the front. The capacity of each can is 4 ounces, so I try to only buy what will fit in the can so I don't have bags everywhere.

................................

That's what I do. Mine are on the front of the fridge.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I do this

3532768586_d28e207a89.jpg

Spices in their keepers

and this

3531951811_f9c447a67d.jpg

They're sorted by things I used together--spices for sweets, savory seeds, savory herbs, ground spices, oddballs. The baskets make them easy to grab & use.

Bulk bags from which those are refilled are in a pair of large tupperware bins in another cabinet.

(need to update those photos since I got a labeller and made the labels neater)

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Here's the solution I built. Holds 56 spices, although right now my top shelf is in disarray. I'm using jars with a clear top so you can see how many are left, and I've got them in alphabetical order so it's super-easy to find whatever I'm looking for. It's definitely made a big difference in how often I use spices. When it was a pain to dig out a bag or bottle from who-knows-where, I sometimes just wouldn't bother. Now not only can I find them all, but I can also just look through and get new ideas from having everything right in front of me!

And no, my kitchen doesn't defy gravity. I can't figure out how to rotate the picture.

I would love to know where you bought the rectangular containers!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I bought a whole bunch of 4oz and 8oz square containers from this place:

http://www.specialtybottle.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=47

Under $1 each and they are food safe and block out light plus stack nicely. I'm not a big fan of tall, slender, glass spice containers. A pain for measuring and grabbing a pinch of something is easier when you can actually grab it...

This is all in theory though... I will be picking them up from the postal outlet this week. Will post a before and after pic

rg

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I bought a whole bunch of 4oz and 8oz square containers from this place:

http://www.specialtybottle.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=47

Under $1 each and they are food safe and block out light plus stack nicely. I'm not a big fan of tall, slender, glass spice containers. A pain for measuring and grabbing a pinch of something is easier when you can actually grab it...

This is all in theory though... I will be picking them up from the postal outlet this week. Will post a before and after pic

rg

Yup I use the 4 oz version of those, which actually hold a surprising amount given that they don't look too big. The only issue I have with them is that the tops can be a bit of a pain to get back on, but most of the time they work fine. And it maximizes use of space when you line them up, and easy to get measuring spoons in them!

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...I have absolutely no wall space in my kitchen - it's all covered with cabinets.

Same here. I keep my spices in clear shoe boxes, grouped alphabetically. More or less. All the spices are kept on a shelf in a cabinet.

SpiceContainers.jpg

I buy my spices in bulk at a local store, in small quantities. If I haven't bought too much, I can stuff the baggies in the small jars, which I buy separately. I reuse sturdy jam and jelly jars, too. Any extra spices are kept in a canister for refills.

If I had an extra shallow drawer to spare, I could use the shoe boxes like separators or trays. But I don't, so I stack them in the cabinet like this. Since they're alphabetical (more or less), I know which shoe box to aim for. BTW, I think storing the spices in a cool, dark cabinet keeps them fresh longer.

SpiceStack.jpg

The labels are very high-tech, masking tape & ballpoint pen.

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I like the wire basket idea used by wholemealcrank. When we were in a rented condo in Moab with almost no cupboards, closets, etc,...I kept a lot of stuff on the top of the kitchen cabinets, such as they were. Mexican in one plastic basket, Chinese in another, chocolate in another. It was very handy. It was also very ugly. The baskets didn't match. Hey! We didn't 'live' there. The cupboard tops were very low. I didn't care what it looked like.

At home, our cupboards are too high for me to store such things safely, assuming I bought all matching containers. I have to stand on a stool to get anything down from there and a basket of any kind would be too dangerous. So my spices are all over the place, as is my entire kitchen. :wacko:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I put spices in square glass jars in a drawer. I label the tops so I can read what's what easily without having to fiddle with them. The square shape keeps them oriented so the labels are always readable and the shape is space efficient. Bought at www.sunburstbottle.com I got the SQ190 bottles. I've been happy with them. There seem to be a couple of heights available in the square shape.

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