If you cook – whether you cook for one, two or a whole table’s worth of people, you make use of spices. Many of us make use of lots of spices, and the different cuisines we turn our hand to call for a variety of different ones.
Having just the right spice on hand makes culinary experimentation easier. That does mean having lots of choices in your kitchen though, and if they are not properly organized your adventures in cooking will be slowed, if not completely derailed. With preventing that in mind here are my tops tips for spice cabinet organization.
Create a Real Spice Cabinet
There are lots of reasons spices should be given their own space. The most obvious is for organization purposes, but it also means that there is no risk that the more pungent of your spices will contaminate other foods in your cabinets.
Creating a formal spice cabinet is ideal, but if you simply don’t have the space a spice rack can be just as efficient, and some of those available today are kitchen decor wonders in their own right.
Create a Pecking Order
When you are placing your spices in your spice cabinet to make the most of organizing them keep your core favorites front and center, but make sure to rotate the less often used spices to the front every now and again to maximize flavor throughout the year.
Use Your ABCs
After you have selected your front favorites, take the time to alphabetize the remaining spices as you place them into your spice cabinet or onto your spice rack. Doing so will make them much easier to find when the recipe you are preparing calls for them, even if you haven’t mind use of them in a while.
Keep Things Fresh
If you tend to keep spices for years you are not getting the most out of them and are possibly spoiling your culinary creations. Spices do have sell by dates and you should take note of them and then, using small sticky labels, mark these dates more prominently on the bottom.
You can also test spices for freshness using these three methods.
- Sight: Check that the colors of your spices & herbs are bright & vibrant. If the color has faded, so has the flavor.
- Smell: Rub or crush the spice or herb in your hand. If the aroma is weak, it is time to replace it.
- Taste: Give the spice a taste test. If it lacks flavor, it is past its prime.
You can help your spices retain their freshness longer if you make sure they are stored away from direct light, excess heat and moisture. This having been said herbs and spices have different shelf lives. Below are some general guidelines.
- Ground spices: 2-3 years
- Whole spices: 3-4 years
- Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
- Dried herbs: 1-3 years
Rinse and Repeat
Once you have completed your spice cabinet organization project you should still clean out your spice cabinet twice a year. Daylight Savings Time is a perfect reminder. This will ensure that you’ll always have fresh spices on hand to create delicious meals at home.