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Organizing Your Spices

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I don’t know about you but my spice drawer used to always be a nightmare.  With all the different sized containers; big, small, round, square, plastic, glass, labels on the top, labels on the side, how can one gain order?!  This leads to a convoluted spice drawer and that my friend is just downright tragic.  Tragic I say!

With my type A personality and my love for organization, I have always fought to gain control over the spice drawer.  I mean come on, if you can’t gain control over your spice drawer, what hope is there for you?  hehe I have spent many afternoons tackling this project.   I have lined them up by size, by category, by alphabet, I have tried spice racks, created spice drawers, laid out spice cabinets… you name it, I have attempted it, but no matter how I “stacked” them, it would only take a matter of  minutes to find them in a disarray all over again.

From the moment I moved out on my own, I have always owned a large collection of spices.  But I only used about four of them.   I always thought that a woman needed to know how to iron a shirt, fix a leaky toilet, replace a button, keep a clean home, change the oil in her car and know how to use spices.  I mastered all of them except for one… spices!   I guess that isn’t true, in the first 35 years of my life, I mastered the art of using four of them; salt, pepper, cinnamon and garlic salt.  The other 27 plus jars just rolled around, collecting dust.

Occasionally I would crack open their lids and take a whiff, put the lid back on and quickly put it away.  I had no idea how to use them.  Boy, have things changed, now I have at least 15 different salts in my pantry, everything from pink Himalayan to black flaked.  I can now appreciate the difference between ground black pepper and fresh cracked pepper.  And thank goodness that I have become friends with the other 27 jarred spices because putting garlic salt on everything… well, just made everything taste like garlic. :)

I have learned to appreciate buying spices in bulk.  Always purchase bulk spices from a store that uses good quality spices, and has high volume of foot traffic so that they roll through their stock.  This keeps the spices fresher.   You can also buy just the amount you need for a just a few months at a time, so your spices stay fresh, and often you can find organic bulk spices. And, because you are not paying for a bunch of little individual bottles and fancy marketing, bulk spices are cheaper!

I finally created my dream spice system.  I used 4oz mason jars which are perfect for holding various spices that usually come in odd ball shaped containers.

spices!Spice Jars

Items needed:

Method:

Clean out a space where you can setup your new spice drawer.  That could be a kitchen cabinet or drawer.  I replaced the shelves in my pantry with full-extension roll out drawers.  Keep in mind the placement of your spices.  Ask yourself, is this spot convenient?  Can I reach into this space with ease?  Is the lighting in this area bright enough so I can read the spice labels?  Tip: Wipe down shelves/drawer and place one or two Bay Leaves on each shelf.  The Bay Leaves will keep the weevils away!  What’s a weevil?!  Weevils are often found in dry foods including nuts and seeds, cereal and grain products, such as pancake mix. In the domestic setting, they are most likely to be observed when a bag of flour is opened.

As I mentioned, I used 4 oz mason jars for my spices.  If your drawer is shallow, you use smaller jars or if you have the space and a large quantity of each spice, you can use larger jars.

To hold the jars in place as you open and close the drawer, I purchased 18″ tension rods at my local department store.   I tried this system without the tension rods and I found that they slid around a quite a bit, so this really helped.

Tip:

Do you have spices that you prefer to “grind” as needed?  Such as fresh ground pepper?  If you do, as I do, you may have noticed that these types of grinders often leave a trail behind them.  Here is a simple and easy approach to keeping your spice area clean.  Place a jar lid under the grinder so when you set it down all the crumbs will fall into the lid.   (smacks forehead with this epiphany)

spicesssss
I needed two full drawers for my spices.  You might need less or more.   The neat thing
that I have learned after using this setup is that once I take a spice out, use it and go to
return it… I find it so easy to put it in the correct spot because a hole is present.  By
organizing them alphabetically makes it so quick and easy ,
never needing to second guess where it is or where it goes.
morespices
In this slide out drawer, I placed a Lazy Susan  for my extracts.  I have my
“butters” organized on the left and on the right I have my stevia flavored sweeteners.
I arranged my essential oils on an acrylic stand that I picked up at a fixture store.
extracts
______________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________
Tea 
I drink tea everyday and I love to offer it to my guests.  But this item is another one of those things that gets lost or is hard to see.  I have tried stacking them in the cabinets but always found they get lost behind one another.  I then moved them to the drawer but that failed too.  They come in different sized boxes and some wouldn’t fit.  Now days, teas come in fancy tins which don’t stack, and roll around in drawers, etc.  Another difference with some teas is that some come in individual wrappers and others don’t.  Some are loose leaf as well.  So, how do I store all my teas in one convenient spot? JARS

Heat, light, and air will cause the tea to become stale before its time, loosing its flavor.   Ideally tea should be stored in a cool place in an airtight container.  Jars are ok to use if you are putting the container in a cabinet as this will block the UV rays.   When tea bags are stored properly, they will stay fresh for at least a year, depending on the type of tea.   The higher the quality, the longer it will stay fresh.

 

Items used:
Method:
  1. Transfer tea bags to jars.
  2. Label lids – if the tea is caffeine-free, I make sure to note that on the jar since many guests request caffeine-free teas.
  3. Store in a dark cabinet.

I hope this gave you some ideas and encouragement to tackle your own kitchen “woes”.    Sending you organizational blessings! amie sue

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36 thoughts on “Organizing Your Spices

  1. Idapie says:

    Love it!

  2. mary says:

    Oh my gosh Amie Sue, you put me to shame. You’re so tidy. Love how you’ve done it!

  3. Alison says:

    Thanks for sharing your pantry and storage ideas. I think they are great. I will keep this in mind when we build our new home in 12 months time. We are still at the planning stage, so I hope to have all the important details in my kitchen all worked out before we start building.

    • amie-sue says:

      How exciting Alison. I hope you design the perfect kitchen for you! So many neat things to do when you can design your own. :) amie sue

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi Amie Sue,

    Thank you for sharing, well you have motivated me again! I
    need to get busy and start organizing. Great tips!

    I noticed you use essential oils, could you recommend a
    good resource? Many thanks.

    Michelle

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Michelle,

      Happy to motivate you. :) Go get busy girlfriend. hehe

      I use and sell doTerra essential oils. So I use those for the most part. I have a few straggler brands that I pick up when I find a really good one. Have a blessed day, amie sue

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is 5:30am and I want to get organizing in my kitchen! I love your website. Your recipes are amazing. I haven’t found one I didn’t like. Just not enough time to make them all. LOL

    • amie-sue says:

      Oh nothing like getting motived at 5:30am Karen. haha But when the bug bites, one must obey. :) Thank you for sharing about the recipes. It is always good to know that they are being enjoyed and not just by us. hehe amie sue

  6. Barb Powers says:

    I organize my spices in a similar fashion, just in 2oz glass jars for my kitchen supply and the remaining bulk in jars in our pantry. I’m particularity pleased with your take on with tea storage. I store my loose in jars so out just makes sense to preserve the bags as well. I know what I’m doing today. Thanks amie sue!

    • amie-sue says:

      Awesome Barb. I am a jar freak. :) I have been very happy with this set up. Good luck getting your teas in order. :) amie sue

  7. joy says:

    Great idea!!!! What are the white poles that you use to separate the jars?

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Joy, I mentioned in the write up that they are tension rods. They work perfect! Have a great day, amie sue

  8. Christa says:

    Wow Amie Sue! That is pretty and inspiring! Thank you for the tip about buying smaller amounts in bulk

  9. Lyn :] says:

    Hi Amie Sue, Wow and I thought I had a great system. Mine are all on revolving Tupperware racks . Remember the pie wedge containers they sold a long time ago? They hold 24 pie shape containers each and I have 3 of them. I know they are plastic, some day I would love to switch out to glass. I have limited space, so I haven’t figured that out yet – but you sharing your great way has given me an idea.
    Mucho gracias, :] Lyn

    • amie-sue says:

      Morning Lyn,

      I have seen those Tupperware containers. I don’t think I have ever owned Tupperware but I remember seeing it all the time in my teens. My girlfriends mom sold it and their house was organized to the hilt with them. :) Do what works for you… it keeps you inspired! Have a happy day my friend, amie sue

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Brilliant idea with the tension rods!

  11. Nicole says:

    Amie,

    I was planning to just clean the drawer, you raised the bar:-) Love the creativity re the tension rods……another great share, thank you!

    • amie-sue says:

      Having an organized spice drawer really helps with creativity in the kitchen. May sound odd to some, but it so true. Have fun cleaning that drawer Nicole. :)

  12. Robyn says:

    OMGoodness! No wonder I am in Love with YOU Amie Sue!! Canning jars = Organization!! May I come play with you in your kitchen? ;) I love that you shared this with your fans too! Blessings, Robyn

    • amie-sue says:

      lol Robyn, I hope that you don’t love me just for my jars. haha :) Come play! I hope that your day is going well. amie sue

  13. Sandie says:

    Hi Amie Sue
    I will be back in Australia in 6 months time and setting up my own home. Will definately use your wonderful idea. Appealing to the eye, and everything so handy.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Sandie

  14. Heidi says:

    Fantastic spice system – I did something similar, and managed to have almost everything in one big drawer (with almost 100 glasses).
    You can see a photo on my blog here if you like (it’s in Danish, but you’ll get the picture from the photos :-))
    It’ll show you the mess that was, as well as the order it is in now.
    http://hejdis.blogspot.dk/2012/02/noget-faktisk-en-hel-del-om-at-vre.html

  15. Laurie says:

    I think that “lazy Susan” idea is brilliant for being able to get the spice out where you can see them at the back of the drawer! As always, inviting article and wonderful tips. Keep it up!

    Hasta luego, Laurie

  16. mari G. says:

    Thank you so much the idea of spice and tea system made my day!! Good job

  17. saniel says:

    Great wish had time, money and space to do this. Thanks

  18. Sandy says:

    This is a great idea Amie Sue and I have pinned it to my Pinterest board until I get all the supplies I need to do something very similar. Thanks!

    (This is your cousin, SP ;) )

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello my dear cousin! Soooo wonderful to hear from you here, there….heck, anywhere. :) Sure do love and miss you! Happy New Year. Perhaps you can come visit the farm this summer… hint hint. :) love you, amie sue

  19. ihab says:

    you are such an inspiration!! you produce some goods and sell what is your website! show us a sneak peak to your kitchen:D

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Ihab :) Right now I am not selling any of my goods on my site. I just sell locally. That keeps me very busy hehe. Nice to hear from. Keep in touch. Blessings, amie sue

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