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Organizing Spices 2: Storing and Labeling

Once you’ve discarded old spices and dealt with duplicates, the next step is to find containers and a labeling system that works for you and your space.  

  1. Use the right container.  Storing the leftovers from a bulk purchase or the Spicely spices with all those little baggies doesn’t have to make you feel like a drug dealer. There are cute small containers that will keep your spices organized even in itty bitty quantities.
  2. Label spices so you can read them from the stored orientation.  If your spices are on a shelf on risers, label the upper portion of the bottle. If your spices are upright in a drawer, label the tops. 

Here’s a variety of examples of easily findable spices and one that’s not. Note that some companies do the work for you by labeling the tops and sides.

If spices are stored on their side in a drawer and you want to get in and get out of the kitchen faster, label the back as well as the front so you can read it even when the jar is turned around. 

3. Use a system that makes sense to you.  Organize your spices either alphabetically or zoned by type of use (rubs, baking flavors, herbs).  If you tend to follow recipes when you cook, it might be easiest to organize alphabetically by name, but if you mostly improvise, it might be helpful to have them grouped by type to help jog your memory and imagination when a dish needs a little something.  It’s also possible to combine the systems, alphabetizing herbs in one place, and then baking flavors — but beware, if there are cooks in your household who don’t share your awareness of how each item is typically used, this system could be quite baffling to them.  

Next, we’ll discuss how to maintain your new organization system by buying spices in the appropriate quantity for you and your cooking habits. 

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