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Cooking and coming together around a family meal is a bright spot in an uneasy time right now. And, an organized spice cabinet is a great way to make cooking stress-free and more enjoyable. Let us help you get that pantry organized, because it’s going to be pulling double duty for a little while.
Where do I start?
Start by pulling all your spices, herbs, blends and salts out of the drawers, cabinets and pantries they’re in. Yes – even those tricky ones on the high cabinet over the stove.
Ask yourself, how old are these flavors?
Herbs and spices don’t spoil like fresh food. But they do lose their flavor and potency over time. To make sure your herbs and spices are making a flavorful impact on your favorite dishes, engage your senses and check out the following:
• Aroma should be strong
• Taste should be potent
• Color should be vibrant
If your spice or herb doesn't meet these freshness standards, check the "best by" date on the bottle. If it’s past the date, it might make sense to toss and replace. But again, dried spices and herbs don’t go bad, so you can keep them as long as you want.
Now it's time to start categorizing.
• Everyday Flavors – Flavors you’ll use 24/7, like garlic powder, salt, and your favorite blends.
• Less Used Items – Don’t make curries that much? Curry powder can go in this category.
• Seasonal Items –Spices and extracts like pumpkin pie spice, gingerbread seasoning, peppermint extract, etc.
• Baking Essentials – Food color and extracts.
Decide how to display your seasonings.
Show off your spice collection on a tiered rack (or Lazy Susan), for a more organized and uniform look, or sort into easy-to-move baskets or pull-out drawers. However you prefer to store, think about keeping your everyday essentials front and center in an easy-access location. Seasonal items and lesser used flavors can be stored higher up or in the back. Do be sure to rotate the less often used spices to the front every now and again to maximize flavor throughout the year. (And you never know what might become a new favorite!)
Storage best practices.
To extend the life of your spices, store them away from extreme heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Label each with a sticker noting the “opened” date to help track when you first began using it. Also keep in mind that each spice type has a different shelf life. Here are some general guidelines.
1. Ground spices: 2-3 years
2. Whole spices: 3-4 years
3. Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
4. Herbs: 1-3 years
Have you checked out our Flavor Maker App yet? This helpful digital tool allows you to scan your spices right to the app to organize your spice rack digitally!
From start to finish, however you make it happen, it’s all about building a spice cabinet that meets your personal needs in the kitchen. Happy organizing!
Have questions for our test kitchen staff, like substitutions for spices you might not have? Ask a question here.