How do you store your spices?

ynnejAugust 29, 2012

The repurposing post has me wondering this. I had a spice rack that I got rid of- all of the herbs it came with were ones I rarely used. At this point mine are all in a tupperware container and it drives me crazy. I've thought about just labeling the tops but figured I'd see if any of you have a better method.

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This link from the Kitchen Forum has lots of ideas with pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spice Storage

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 7:33AM
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On the right pull out are seasonings I use mostly during cooking.

On the left pull out are spices and baking supplies. I stand just to the left when I am using my mixer and the drawer in front of me has flour, sugar, brown sugar and measuring cups.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Not fair Newkitchen Nancy!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:11AM
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My spices fill two lazy susans. The top cabinet has a lazy susan with 3 shelves, two of which are full of spices. The lower cabinet lazy susan has two shelves, one of which is full of spices in bigger jars. I also have a drawer full of spices which are in bags. Periodically I clean out and toss the old stuff, but it doesn't take long to replenish.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:16AM
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I know Cathy :(
I only posted on the chance that someone might read this thread that was looking for ideas for a new kitchen. My setup has worked better than I ever dreamed it would. I got the idea from a random search back when I was in the planning stage.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:28AM
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I store them in an upper cabinet, as I much prefer upper cabinets to lower ones, but I wonder if women prefer lower cabinets, as my SIL says (and "S" stands for sister instead of son). I have my spices more or less grouped by cuisine, and so I have sections for Japanese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, and "other". The "other" section contains spices that are used by multiple cuisines.

I think it is important to keep them away from light, which is why I do not use a spice rack on the wall. Besides that, I do not have wall space for such a rack, since I have two knife racks, and my upper cabinets extend pretty low.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Nancy, that is absolutely gorgeous. I see that you've labeled your lids, and that a lot of people on that link have as well. I also noticed many people ordered their spices from Penzey's, and it seems that they come with attractive little jars the first time around, then you purchase refills, is that correct? Having pretty jars might help motivate me to stay organized, even if they're out of view (I guess I'm just shallow like that :) Lars, I guess that all depends on how high the cabinets. My husband is 6'4" and sometimes forgets that he's almost a foot taller than me. Cheryl, I know what you mean. I think I add new spices a lot quicker than I ever have to toss them.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I keep whole, unground spices in an old-fashioned wall-hung spice rack. Any ground spices or herbs I keep in the freezer.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 12:49PM
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I have an older kitchen now, and not much counter space. Sooo, I keep two revolving spice towers in a narrow tall cabinet.

Both are loaded alphabetically, only the one in front had the "most used" spices.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 4:02PM
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Pfeffer and Salz! Oh, German always makes me smile.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Unlike Nancy and Cathy, I just dump mine in a drawer. I tried labelling the tops and the labels peeled off. I tried lying them on their sides and they spin around so the labels are on the bottom and I can't read them. I went back to pitching them in a drawer.

Lars, I'm 5'1" and I can't see them if I put them on a higher shelf, especially when they get pushed to the back. I buy the bulk of my spices and herbs from Penzey's since we have a store and I always go in for one thing and come out with a hand full so I have way too many.

Ynnej, you can buy the spices in glass jars or you can buy them in bags. I tend to get bags of things I use a lot of and reuse the original jars since it is much more economical.

Nancy, I've GOT to get up there and see that kitchen. I'm envious and I'm stealing ideas for when we build!


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Annie, yeahbut I don't, or can't, milk a cow or make fondant princess cakes. So my nicely organized spice drawer doesn't add much value relative to other skills.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:55AM
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So where do you guys buy those cute metal containers with the clear lids like in a lot of those pictures in that link?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:07PM
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Arkansas girl, at Specialty Bottle.

ynnej, I usually buy in bulk from the Spice House or Penzey's and use them to fill containers from Specialty bottle. Then I keep the excess in the freezer for refills.

Annie, I make labels for the top and sides of the bottles or tins with a Brother P-Touch label maker and they are durable. It's been 6 years and I haven't needed to replace any of them - they stay on and the writing doesn't smudge.

But I keep my asafeotida container in a glass jar in a tupperware box in my pantry. Three layers of containment barely keep the odor in check.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:23PM
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When I had my kitchen re-done umpty thousand years ago, I had one cupboard hung very low...only 14 inches above the counter....which is very deep. The first shelf of that cupboard is where I store my spices....and seeds and extracts and herbs and food colorings and colored sugars, ... and the extra blades for the cuisinart!!
The shelf has 2 levels one shelf is about 5 inches deep and has about 8 inches clearance. On top go bottles and tall jars of stuff...
Arranged by seeds on the left leaves in the middle and ground spices to the right.
Very 'scientific'...but I know where stuff is!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:35PM
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CS, Elery's daughter bought us a label maker for Christmas, I don't know what kind. I made a bunch of labels, stuck them to the plastic bottle lids. It took several hours. Within a couple of weeks they were all over the drawer but few were on the bottles. I gave up in disgust because I'd spent that time doing something I detest (organizing or anything else that makes me sit still for longer than 10 minutes, LOL)) and I should have known better.

Cathy, you would have a heart attack if you looked into my cupboards! I've given up on organizing, I tried to organize my pantry so I could find and/or reach anything at all. I tried baskets with labels. They don't fit on my narrow and deep shelves and the whole basket from the top shelf about a foot over my head tumbles down on top of my head when I try to find something.

I'm going back to just pitching everything into the pantry and slamming the door...


    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Annie, as I was implying--at least your skills add value!

I use a P-touch labeler way too much--ask my cat. These labels have been on the jars for years with no failures.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Annie, I'd give up in disgust too. Organizing isn't high on my list of tasks either. If you ever need to label something again, the P-Touch won't do that to you.

My DH loves the thing - he even made Push and Pull labels for the pool gate latch because people push when they should pull and vice versa and it was causing problems. So far even with the weather they are staying put.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Cathy, your organizational skills add value too, the value of time. Whereas I know where everything is and don't spend a lot of time looking for it, I do spend time putting things back, mostly things that are in front of what I want or things that fell out on top of me when I pulled out a basket of plastic wrap and bags, etc. Still, somehow, it doesn't aggravate me like the fact that the "organization" seldom works for me after I do it.

Elery decided that my pantry actually needed plastic boxes and baskets, that would keep things in place. So we got baskets and sorted things out. Many items are not of a size where they fit in the baskets and the baskets aren't long and narrow enough to reach to the back of the pantry. all wraps and bags went on the top shelf and those are the things I use the most, next to the baking supplies. Baking supplies are on the bottom. So, it's very "organized" for Elery and doesn't work worth a darn for me.

It seems that one person's organization is another person's aggravation, LOL.

I keep insisting that my problem isn't lack of organization, it's lack of space. Actually, it's just too darned much "stuff". Well, that and cupboards that are not tall enough to actually put anything in. That's why my bread machine, food processor, coffee maker and mixer all sit on the counter, there's not a cabinet large enough to put them in but they take up precious counter space, of which I already have too little. Things like the roaster, the crockpot, stockpots, pressure cooker, canning equipment, those all have to go in the basement so that's not handy either. I've definitely learned a couple of things that I won't do when we build a house and one is to put in a whole kitchen full of cabinets with none of them having a shelf that's more than a foot from the next.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:22PM
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I love the look of those labels. I'll have to look into that P touch.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 12:06PM
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Annie, what a great opportunity i.e. your new house to customize your kitchen and pantry to your specific needs. There are so many tips and products that I wish I had been privy to way back when. I know Nancy did her homework and could be a great resource for you when the time comes.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I like the upper cabinet as it's at eye level and I keep everything currently used on the lower shelf. Middle shelf is extracts, baking powder, salt, etc. Top shelf is big jars for refilling lower shelf. On the lower shelf are the many Penzeys samples and also bigger jars for the most used spices.
The look is kind of messy, but I prefer seeing and using the container they came in and also having everything in one place. Most spices are from Penzeys bags but not all.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 4:21PM
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I just switched recently to Swivel Store Organizer that you have seen on TV ads. They are sold at Target, Walmart and lots of other places. I really got them for a great deal at Big Lots, $13. I have them in the pantry and they do work pretty good for organizing the spices. You can see what you have and get to them easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: Swivel Store Organizer

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 5:41PM
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I've got that organizer also but mine's a couple years old and was sold by Lori Grenier (sp?) on QVC. I like it but it sticks a bit from weight when full of large bottles. I switched things around so the top shelf of the rack has small Penzey's containers and the larger ones are on the bottom for better weight balance. It helps but now it's hard to see the smaller containers on the top. Can't win.

I rearrange spices every year - just can't get it so I'm satisfied. By the time DH learns where I moved things to I do it all over again. :(


    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 6:03PM
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I had all(most) of my bottles in a basket in a bottle cabinet but it was not big enough so after seeing this I got inspired and went searching. I found a very sturdy wicker basket at TJ Maxx that fits perfectly in my space and holds ALL my spices, not just SOME! HA! I just put labels on the top made from my freezer labeling masking tape(and Sharpie) and that works just fine and does not come off.

Anyone wanting those tower type spice holders should look at garage sales, I have been seeing them everywhere and for one or two dollars. Now I wish I had gotten them if for no other reason than for the nice jars!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 6:49AM
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OOOPS, what's a "bottle cabinet" you ask...HAHA, I meant bottom cabinet...GAH! Please please add an edit feature to GW!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Bumblebeez, is the stepped wooden shelf with the short Penzeys jars built in? Or can I buy it somewhere?

I have my spices in a lot of different places.

  1. The ones I use all the time are in a shallow 3-shelf rack that matches my upper cabinets and goes from them to the counter. It holds 18 little spice bottles. I modeled it on an old wooden kiwi crate I was using in my old kitchen! Part of the "what's working here that I'd like to keep" planning. I should move some of these, though, because some aren't really used often, but they live there. The ones I use constantly are marjoram, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder.
  2. There's a three-shelf nook in the wall where I think an ironing board my once have been. I changed the molding and kept it. It holds bigger jars, mostly of pretty spices. I have cinnamon sticks, ginger, true cinnamon, nutmegs, candied ginger, garam masala, and vanilla sugar there.
  3. In my cutlery drawer, there are two shallow horizontal chambers behind the vertically-divided ones I use for the everyday cutlery. They are filled with the short little Penzey's jars, for once in alphabetical order. (I sometimes forget that these are here!)
  4. On the second shelf of the upper cabinet just above there, I have two Trader Joe's clear triple ginger cookie containers filled with spice bottles and stacked one on top of the other. I can just reach this without a ladder, but if I really have to search I use one.
  5. Back-up supplies in a shoebox on a shelf in the back room.
  6. Ancient stuff in the cellar, in box that says "Little-used spices" LOL. These should be thrown out, but you never know...
    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 2:09PM
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I store mine on lazy susans. When we had our kitchen redone one cabinet between the corner cabinet and stove vent had to be only 11 inches wide. I wondered what to do with it until I spied a small 10 inch lazy susan on my table. I tried it and it was a perfect fit so I purchased 2 more--one had 2 tiers. I put a single one on the bottom and top shelves and saw what I could put on each and if I'd have to move the shelves. Well I put all my large containers and bottles--soy, worchestershire, magi and beef and chicken soup base on the top lazy susan.

Since I have bottles and tins of spices the bottles went on the bottles went on the bottom lazy susan and then I moved the shelf to just above the bottles and put the double lazy susan in. All my tins fit on that.

Now I have a dedicated spice cupboard and all my spices are easy to find. If you don't have a cupboard like mine you could use one shelf of a regular cupboard for spices. They are so much easier to find when you only have to spin them around to find what you are looking for

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Cloudy, I bought it at Wal Mart and the shelves weren't quite deep enough, so I hot glued some thin wooden strips on top to accommodate the spices. It works great and holds 5 jars on each shelf.
I had some thin balsa wood around and am handy with an x-acto so cutting was not a problem. However, two layers of cereal box cardboard would probably work as well. I just did this a few months ago and love it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 7:40PM
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Thanks to the thread Mustangs linked above, I planned for a spice drawer in my new kitchen. It's such a simple thing that I could have done it in my old kitchen had I known.

The tins came from Specialty Bottle and are of high quality. I used blue tape for labels because my treasured label maker is still packed in a box from our whole house reno. (DH threw it in a box while we were packing so I have no idea which box it is in!) I have a few more tins in the drawer now for some fancy sea salts and some spice mixes I made, but they still all fit. The drawer is one of my most favorite things in the new kitchen! So easy to use!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:22AM
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