5 simple strategies to tackle your messy spice drawer

Allison Weigensberg
Spices can instantly take the taste of whatever you are cooking to a whole new level. So it’s no wonder that we tend to keep a plethora of them on hand at all times. This can make it especially challenging to keep them together and easy to find, but with a few simple adjustments you can easily organize them and set yourself up for success.
Survey your spices
Go ahead and take all of your spices out, yes, even those hiding all the way in the back of your pantry. You’re going to want to put them all on the counter, or any other surface where you can really see what you have. This is usually the first step in organizing any space, as it’s really important to really see what you have in order to determine the best solution. Once you have all those spices out, try to group them together by flavor. We often end up with multiples of the same spice so this step is crucial in getting them organized.
Find your expiration comfort level
We have all played fast and loose with expiry dates before; like that yogurt that expired a week ago but still smells and tastes fine or that can of beans passed it’s date that was never opened. Spices are a whole other animal, in that some food experts believe that because they’re dried they don't really expire. They do however lose some of their potency and flavor over time, so it’s really up to you how long you want to keep them around. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t cooked with it in over a year it’s likely time to let it go. So take a few minutes to go through your collection and discard any spices that don’t need to be there. This step alone will help clear up quite a bit of space.
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Give them a home
Once you have curated your spice collection you need to think about where all these spices are going to live. Ideally it will be somewhere near where you do your cooking so that they are easily accessible. But this place is really going to depend on the space you have available. The classic spice drawer? Open shelves on the wall? A turntable in your cupboard? Don’t be afraid to move other kitchen items around so that you can create a home where all your spices can live together.
Unify the containers
There is just something that is so visually appealing about the uniformity of having matching jars. Unfortunately, unless you are very brand loyal with your spices, you likely have a hodgepodge of jars, bottles and bags that currently house your spices. Consider transferring your spices to matching containers. You can use ones that are specifically designed for them, a small mason jar, or really any container that fits with your kitchen decor will work. Try to make sure that the seal on the container is airtight to preserve freshness. It's also important to pay attention to the opening. Opt for a shaker top if you tend to sprinkle your spices, but if you are more of a by-the-spoonful kind of person then you’ll want to make sure that the top is wide enough to fit a measuring spoon in.
Label, label, label
Just like the icing on a cake, think of the label as the decorative, yet completely necessary, final touch. Not only does it help you to identify the contents, but having a clear and consistent label technique helps to reduce visual clutter. Labels can be as simple as handwriting the name on masking tape or as fancy as a custom printed design. Just like any other space you choose to organize in your home it’s all about what works for you, your lifestyle and your budget.