Spice Storage help

carsonheimMay 27, 2013

Howdy!

We are building a new house, and one of the things that I'm struggling with in my current kitchen is spices. I have about 60-70 bottles of spices all in varying sizes, along with probably 20-30 bottles of vinegars and oils. Right now it is a nightmare trying to get what I need when cooking.

I'm hoping to come up with a good solution in my new kitchen. I was originally interested in pullouts next to my cooktop, but am not sure those would work. Also, a spice drawer is not enough space. Here's a photo of my current cabinet. This shows the bottom and part of the middle shelf. There's a top shelf that looks pretty much the same.

I would appreciate any input that may help me make my spice storage a pleasure rather than a pain in the @ss!

Thanks!

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Peke

Mine is like yours, but only six inches deep. It is also 8' tall. I have some spices that are only 2-3" tall...like yours. I plan to put them on a 2 or 3 tier rack so I can see all labels. (sort or like the stand choir singers stand on, but spiced size. LOL) Will do the same with the middle sizes spices.

I also keep vinegars and oils in there.

Are you keeping the spice cabinet or is it being removed? If keeping it, you could use the tiers. I wonder if those Lee Valley dividers could be used like horizontal shelves. They have metal "teeth" that go inside the wood. They might work for your littlest spice jars. Maybe put one on left and one on right and then several on the back wall. Make thin shelves. I don't know if it would work or not.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Peke

Spice cabinet.

I still need to find an oil and waterproof liner before I put oils in the cabinet. Peke

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 2:56PM
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marcia59

Your spice collection looks like mine!

As I'm thinking about my renovation, I'm also trying to decide what to do with my spices. I've also rejected a base cabinet pull out as both too small and inconvenient and a spice drawer as too small and hard to manage with all the different sized containers.

Here's my current plan. I'm still in the planning stages, so I can't speak from experience about whether it's a good one, but I have high hopes.

I'm going to a corner wall cabinet convenient to my prep area and cooktop that will look like the one in the link below. I'll use stepped or tiered cabinet organizers, the sort of thing you can buy at Container Store or BB&B and that's where my herbs and spices will go. I actually use organizers like that in my current cabinet and it really helps to see what's in back. I just don't have enough room.

Obviously, the L shaped shelves don't provide as much real estate as a corner cab with a diagonal front, the kind of thing you'd use for a lazy susan. But I figure that what I lose in real estate, I'm going to make up for in easy visibility.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scroll down to the corner cab with the Moore's biscuit mix

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:04PM
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a2gemini

Carson- mine looked a lot like yours before reno - I thought about drawers, pull out cabinets, etc - but what worked for me was the Spice Stack - this is the larger of the 2 units and I ordered it on-line.

I liked it because I could use standard spice bottles and not have a mess. Eventually, I will label the shelves.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:48PM
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carsonheim

Peke -- that spice cabinet of yours looks awesome! something like that could work for my kitchen I think!

I've saved your image to my evernote files :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:56PM
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angela12345

Another, less expensive idea is to use the space between wall studs. That space is the perfect depth for spices and bottles of oils and vinegars. This could be almost anywhere there is some open wall space, just add a door on front, or leave it open. For example, the space behind a door swing against the wall, in the pantry, in between the upper and lower cabinet. I even see wall space in peke's picture above.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 4:21PM
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bpathome

Ditto Angela's idea. My brother lives in a vintage building, and converted an ironing board cabinet between the studs to spice storage. Each shallow shelf holds a row of spice bottles, so he can see them all and not knock any over when he takes one out.

Fortunately he wears mostly t-shirts so the ironing board was no great loss :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 4:59PM
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texaspenny

Suggestion for protecting your wood shelves from oils/vinegars is to put them in a thin plastic container. You can see on the bottom of this picture we have our oils in a thin container. The vinegars aren't perfect, but it's something I had on hand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plastic storage

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 5:09PM
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xxxxOldTimeCarpenter

The problems with spice storage are two:

(1) Spices come in containers of various shapes and sizes, and

(2) The containers they come in from the store does not protect the contents from deterioration after opening.

As a consequence, less often used spices lose most of their freshness after a few months.

I have never known a serious home chef who does not recommend decanting spices into a sealed container for long term storage.

The advantage of decanting, besides keeping spices fresher for a longer period of time, is that you can plan storage for just one or two jar sizes, rather than umpteen, which makes storage design easier.

What we commonly do is build a shallow cabinet at the end of a cabinet run. Small shelves on the doors (2.5" deep) hold small spice jars. Larger shelves (4") in the cabinet hold the larger jars. To total depth of the cabinet is usually 8.5", which means it will fit nearly anywhere, and you can have as many as you need. We have even built a floor to ceiling cabinet alongside a tall pantry. I don't think the homeowner has filled it up yet.

If side mounting is not an option (too far from the prep area, for example), then we still mount shelves on nearby cabinet doors, again 2.5" and 4" to hold spices, and recess the internal shelves the same amount so the two banks of shelves do not conflict.

Just one solution. Use if if you like it.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 5:21PM
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ginny20

This is mine.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 5:55PM
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breezygirl

I'm curious why you think a spice drawer isn't enough space. I could fit at least 96 spices in my 15.75" wide drawer, although I only store about 90 (including all my specialty salts). A drawer is so much easier to use than a cupboard. One pull of the drawer and everything is visible with labels. No hunting around or moving jars to get in the back. My spice drawer is one of THE best things about my new kitchen. (Ignore the blue tape labels with my hand writing.)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:23PM
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leela4

Peke-I put a cork liner under my oils and vinegars.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:27PM
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drbeanie2000

breezy - your spice drawer is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but don't you have to load each of those jars from the "regular" jars each time?

I actually had two drawers made deep enough that we could fit the standard sized jars with all the lids facing up, like yours. We got a free drawer insert which holds things on their sides, and DH decided that he liked being able to see the jars side-on, perhaps to see the labels that his daughter did with a gold marker when she was really young! It definitely holds fewer spices than yours (we have about sixty), but I have gotten used to it too. It would be harder if I didn't have a second spice drawer right next to it for spices in bags or in containers with an odd shape.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 12:57PM
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breezygirl

Drbeanie--No, I don't have to fill my tins from bottles. I buy all my spices in bulk at my regular grocery or at the food coop (if I didn't make my own) and refill the tins. Actually, if my tin is empty, I take it to the coop and refill the organic spice directly into the tin so as to save a baggie. At the regular grocery, I reuse their small plastic spice bags each time. (Reduce, reuse, recycle!) That way, I only buy what I need to buy instead of a larger jar that will sit in the drawer for 2 years and be worthless when I need it again.

The big plus, besides the green aspect of not buying another plastic or glass jar, is that spices are cheaper this way!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 1:10PM
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Sherrie Moore

Breezygirl-- I love your spice storage and have decided to do the samething as soon as my remodel is completed!

Where did you buy the tin jars?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 1:14PM
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robo (z6a)

I'm thinking about a couple of the rubbermaid pull down spice racks. Although it would require fixing the second shelf in the cabinet. Also I don't think it stores as much as our current method of shoving everything in there regardless of size, but makes up for it in organization.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rubbermaid pull down spice rack

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 1:24PM
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scrappy25

Breezy, please share your tin jar source. Is that a screw top lid? Do you have any problem with closing the powdery spice containers due to clingy powder?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 1:25PM
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xxxxOldTimeCarpenter

Breezy,

Love your drawer. Where do you get your jars?

Since we hve live all over the world and enjoy food from many cultures, we have a lot of spices -- over 200. So a single drawer would not work for us, but I like the idea.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:11PM
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xxxxOldTimeCarpenter

Breezy,

Love your drawer. Where do you get your jars?

Since we hve live all over the world and enjoy food from many cultures, we have a lot of spices -- over 200. So a single drawer would not work for us, but I like the idea.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Sherrie Moore

Breezy, are these the same type spice tins you have???

http://www.specialtybottle.com/tindeepcontainer4ozwcleartopcover.aspx

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Sherrie Moore

Breezy, are these the same type spice tins you have???

http://www.specialtybottle.com/tindeepcontainer4ozwcleartopcover.aspx

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:20PM
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xxxxOldTimeCarpenter

Anyone anyone know know why why everything everything is is being being posted posted twice twice ??

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:32PM
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breezygirl

Buckeyegoldenmom just posted the tins I bought from Specialty Bottle. I like the clear lids for being able to do a quick glance into the tops without even touching them before I go to the store, but they have other types of lids and containers. I use the 4 oz size for the majority of my spices and salts. I also use a few of the 8 oz size in the back for larger size herbs (bay leaves) or ones I use in large quantities like cinnamon, chili powder, and my homemade Italian spice blend. For some reason, the 8 oz lids don't fit as snugly as the 4 oz lids.

I go nuts over these tins. They appeal to my OCD need to have sameness and organization wherever I go. Plus, the price is definetly right! The lids fit tightly, yet are easy to get remove. The only issue I've had in 18 months is the ground cloves tin, which had a sticky lid after about 16 months. I removed the cloves and washed the tin, fixing the problem. I made some spice blends at Christmas and poured them in little tins as gifts. I also ordered some of their clear Boston bottles to package my homemade vanilla extract gifts. I might be coming addicted to that online store!

The drawer storage idea and source for the tins came from GW, of course! The drawer is so easy to use, it's genius!

Here is a link that might be useful: Direct link to the 4 oz tins at Specialty Bottle

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:49PM
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carsonheim

"I'm curious why you think a spice drawer isn't enough space."

Breezy -- Since my spices are all in different sized bottles and such, I'm not sure they'd all fit. Your tins look awesome! But knowing the way that I am, putting my spices in tins like that is something that realistically I wouldn't do. Too damned lazy :-0

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:52PM
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mrspete

Two years ago I was fed up with my mismatch of spices, and I set out to find the perfect system. I decided I wanted to get exactly the right thing, even if it was expensive . . . But I wanted it to last forever. I was just about to buy flat jars like BreezyGirl -- and I was even going to buy them from Specialty Jars! -- but then I found a great system called Table Fare, which is a system of small triangle-shaped jars that fit onto small Lazy Susans. I love those jars. Unfortunately they quit making them.

Like BreezyGirl, I buy my spices in bulk from a health food store. So much cheaper, and I buy just the amount I want. But the big plus is the low price!

I also have my oils, vinegars and other sauces on Lazy Susans. Love it.

In my mind, the ideal situation provides jars all the same size. This is a pain when you sent it up the first time but not a problem to maintain. Good labeling is essential. And you need a system for finding the spices: alphabetical, all Italian spices in one spot and baking spices in another -- whatever works for you.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 6:02PM
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justmakeit

This is another Breezygirl-style solution. The jars are mostly 4 oz. jars from Penzey's (online spices, but we have a brick and mortar shop near us too). What I love about these jars is that they are wide enough for even my widest tablespoon to go in. They are glass on the sides, but have a plastic lid, so I can't see the contents through the lid the way Breezygirl can. I used a paper punch to make the labels when I had some time on my hands one day (too much time, maybe?) I really like being able to see everything at once, and pull out just the spices I need without moving stuff around.

Edited to say: I buy in bulk too, mostly at Penzey's.

This post was edited by justmakeit on Tue, May 28, 13 at 19:25

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 7:21PM
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rkb21

I'm inspired! I love all of the great pictures of the organized drawers. I'm always looking for an excuse to use my label maker :)

Breezy---thanks for sharing the source for your tins.

Just a question---does anyone have square tins? Can you fit more doing that shape as opposed to round ones or does it not matter?

Can't wait to organize my spices when I have my kitchen back!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 8:29PM
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numbersjunkie

I knew I would never transfer spices to special containers and label them all. But I found a great solution - the Ikea spice rack and a shallow drawer. Actually I never got around to buying the Ikea rack for the right side, but it works great anyway. Here's mine

I keep larger spice containers in a cabinet nearby.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 8:44PM
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