One of my biggest kitchen problems has always been figuring out the best way to organize spices. As I've learned to cook (and learned to enjoy cooking), I've accumulated quite the collection. I have the spices that are used on a regular basis, stuff like garlic powder, sage and paprika and I have stuff that was purchased for one recipe, like lemon extract.
Years ago, with my first marriage, we registered for a revolving spice rack from Macy's. It looked pretty, but wasn't very functional. It sat on our kitchen counter, taking up space and gathering dust. The rack came complete with spices, all past their prime and not necessarily the ones that we used. It became something that we couldn't bear to throw away, because we had asked for it and it seemed like a wasteful gesture. Last year, I finally chucked it into the trash, all of the spices well beyond their best-by dates and some of the plastic jars with cracks.
First and foremost, I think with any organizational task, you need to figure out what works best for you. The revolving spice rack, may have been perfect for someone else's needs. My needs are accessibility and space savings. I don't need to have the spices displayed in an artful or beautiful manner, I need them within reach and easy to locate.
Even when I had the revolving rack, I've always had the extra spices in a cupboard. This grew into two shelves, where the spice jars were stacked in rows, with the most frequently used spices in front.
It was messy. I frequently bought duplicates of spices that I already owned, because I couldn't locate the original on the shelf. If I needed to reach something in the back, I had to remove several layers in the effort to locate a certain spice.
I finally fixed my spice organization with a couple of Christmas presents from Dan.
On one shelf, I have this fantastic spice drawer.
I used the spice drawer to hold eighteen of my most used spices and it sits right on my shelf, hidden in the cupboard. There is room on the side for my larger container of pepper, salt and a canola oil spray. I have not committed to the spices that I want in the drawer, but once I figure it out, the drawer came with spice labels, to make the whole system even more organized.
Instead of getting a second drawer, I went a different route for my second spice shelf. I decided to use a multi-tiered raiser, to keep everything neat and visible. This system worked out great for those odd shaped spices and liquids. I think this was the primary problem with the revolving rack, it forced all of the spices into uniform bottles. This just isn't realistic, because some spices are hardly used and should be purchased in smaller quantities and some, for instance I use a ton of pepper, can be bought in industrial sized containers.
Here are some pictures of the finished product.
I would organized it differently, if I had a bigger kitchen, but for now, this is a much better solution to what I had previously. I am less stressed cooking and I save time and money when creating my shopping list, as I can easily locate items.
Organizing the shelf provided a great opportunity to check expiration dates and toss old spices. Spices are so often bought and kept well past their prime. I urged everyone to reevaluate their spice shelves and do a New Year clean up.
Do you have a home organization idea? I'd love to hear it and get some feedback.