Friday, April 08, 2016

Extending My Spice Shelf

New spice shelf in the middle.
For a long time, I've thought about a third shelf for my spices. This week, Len made one for me, carefully matching the two that were built into the pantry when we had our kitchen remodeled years ago. As the paint on the new shelf was drying, I thought about improving on some of the very old containers, which I regularly refill from one of several bulk spice shops in town, mainly Whole Foods. Therefore, I ordered 12 new ones with shiny chrome-plate tops.

New jars washed and ready to fill and label.
New arrangement.
Besides the extra room from the new shelf, changing from some of the more unwieldy old bottles to new, smaller ones enabled me to take some spices out of plastic bags and store them more neatly. With all the spices I keep on hand, I'll probably never have entirely consistent containers: that would be boring, anyway!

Something made with spices: red sauce for linguini,
here served with fried eggs and artichoke hearts.
A list of spices on my shelves: allspice, almond extract, basil, cloves, cumin, whole & ground coriander, celery seed, cardamom, whole & stick cinnamon, caraway seed, curry powder, cocoa, dill, fennel, fines herbs, five-spice powder, juniper berries, ginger, garum masala, herbs de provence, kefir lime leaves, lavender buds, marjoram, whole & ground mustard seed, mint, orange-flower water, oregano, parsley flakes, poppy seeds, chile powder, white pepper, red chile flakes, cayenne pepper, Hungarian paprika, hot & mild Spanish smoked paprika, rosemary, sage, saffron, star anise, turmeric, tarragon, thyme, cream of tartar, vanilla extract, vanilla powder, and zatar. A few more are still in plastic bags in another container, and my whole nutmeg is stored with its grater, but that's all I need on the shelves for now.

A note on refilling spice containers: the spices in the bulk section of Whole Foods and at the specialty shops are fresher and much less expensive than buying a new little bottle of spice whenever it's used up or starts to go stale. As I understand it, ground spice and dried leaf spices become stale rather quickly, while whole spices like nutmeg or juniper last quite a long time. I've been keeping track of the dates on my spice refills for a number of years -- probably the most organized thing I do in this chaotic life.

15 comments:

Jeanie said...

Looks fabulous, Mae! I always have a tough time keeping mine in order -- that looks wonderful.

Beth F said...

Good job on organizing and getting more storage space. I do have matching glass bottles, which I like.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I buy mine from the Bulk Barn. I don't have matching jars, I started out with nice ones from the Dollar Store but then they stopped stocking those. Oh well.
They are contained on a lazy Susan.

Trish said...

I'm impressed by your organization! You'd be appalled at how long I've had some of our bottles of spices without refilling. I won't tell you. ;) I've never been to Whole Foods and it's too far out of my way to go for spices, but I wonder if my neighborhood grocer might have spices like this. I'll have to check--I like the idea of a more cost effective method of keeping fresher spices on hand.

Claudia said...

He did a good job matching that shelf. Feels good to get organized. About half of my spices are in the freezer, in bottles and little zip-locks, which should get into jars.

Margot said...

Your spice shelves are a work of art. You must be so satisfied every time you go near them. I'm very impressed. Good for you!

Katherine P said...

Your spice shelves look great! I love the narrow shelves instead of just a regular cabinet shelf. It makes things so much easier to find with no wasted space. I need to go through and upgrade some of my spice containers as well. Like you I do the bulk refills and I have some jars that I'm sure are too bulky.

My Cozy Book Nook said...

I recently discovered Penzy's near us and my spice collection has increased significantly. I need to reconsider how I currently store spices and remodel to make it easier to see what I have on hand.

Esme said...

He has done a great job. I always buy just a little depending on the spice and how quickly I go through them. I keep my alphabetical so when I am cooking I can quickly grab them and always know where they are.

Deb in Hawaii said...

You definitely have more organized spices than I do. ;-) Love those little shelves. Like Claudia, I keep many of my spices in the freezer because of the humidity here and my pantry with the hardier spices, rarely stays in order for long.

Nan said...

I love the shelves! I keep mine on one of those silverware holders on a shelf, but I don't have nearly as many as you do!

sherry from sherrys pickings said...

so satisfying to organise your shelves isn't it? i have just about the same number and variety of spices that you do. they seem to get old quickly tho- as in, the years just fly by. I remember cleaning out my MIL's pantry when she went into a home and some of her spices were nearly a decade old!

Shari Wakefield said...

Your spice shelf is awesome. I have a large box in which I store all my spices, but it is often hard to find what I want straight away. I think I will need to work on something like this.

Pam said...

I just organized my spices shelves too. Yours look great.

Gretchen DALRYMPLE said...

I recently reorganized all my spices and was shocked at some of the old bottles I found hidden in the back of the pantry! Now I can see my slices better and hopefully keep my inventory up to date. Whole Foods is great for bulk spices. We also have Fresh Market which has a good spice selection as well.