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Weekend Project: Organize Your Spices and Seasonings

Illustration for article titled Weekend Project: Organize Your Spices and Seasonings
Image: Akhil Chandran (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Pretty much everyone is cooking more these days and, perhaps, finding that their spices and seasonings aren’t as well organized as they might like. Is that you? Yes, you there! Hello! Maybe this weekend you might think about putting on some Taylor Swift and really wilding out on your spice collection? Sure! Here comes a step-by-step guide to getting your spice collection under control.

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Step 1: Gather Everything Up

Before you can do this job, you need to know what you have and, funny thing about spices … they tend to migrate all over the kitchen. And perhaps even beyond! I mean, who among us hasn’t found a small jar of nutmeg in the nightstand after the company holiday party?

So start by taking all of your spices and seasonings and suchlike out of cabinets, drawers, the freezer, nightstand, etc., and put them all in one place. A counter or table would be good.

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Step 2: Clean

Well you had to have seen this coming! But right, as long as everything is out of the spice cabinet or spice drawer or whatever the place is where you keep you spices, go ahead and clean it—a sponge or paper towel and all-purpose spray cleaner will do the trick.

Also, you may need to wipe down the exterior of bottles that have gotten sticky like extracts, honey, or liquid smoke. If those sticky things have spilled in the cabinet, wet a sponge, or rag with very hot water and, minding your hands, hold it down on the sticky area like a compress; the heat and water will loosen the stickiness up, making it easier to wipe away.

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Step 3: Fuck, Marry, Kill

This is the fun part! And not just because we’re playing Fuck, Marry, Kill with our spices, which in and of itself is fun: This is the part where you get to survey your collection and decide what to keep, figure out what you have duplicates of and can marry together into one container, and which spices are old, unused, unloved, and can be tossed out.

Step 4: Strategy

There are a lot of good ways to organize a spice collection and this is a good time to assess where you keep your spices and what will work best for you. Here are some ideas:

  • Alphabetical
  • Baking spices v cooking spices
  • Whole spices v ground spices v spice blends
  • Regular used spices v infrequently used spices

Step 5: Leveling Up The Storage Sitch

You may want to decant your spices into new containers—either because everything is in hard-to-organize baggies or just because you like the look of a more uniform spice cabinet. Here are some options for storing spices that you might consider.

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Mason Jars: Okay yes, mason jars are twee and a bit of a punchline at this point. But! Don’t discount them and here’s why—they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can accommodate bulkier or oddly shaped spices (cinnamon sticks, hello!) while still giving your collection a uniform look.

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Semi-disposable plastic storage containers: Much like mason jars, these come in a variety of sizes. Plus, they’re lightweight and easy to open.

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Spice jar sets: Empty spice jar sets are another option but be careful with these—they lack flexibility and you may find that a uniform jar doesn’t work for all the spices in your collection.

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Label maker: If you’re transferring spices to new containers, you’ll also want to label them using label maker or blank stick-on labels and a marker.

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Step 6: Put Everything Back

Now it’s time for the fun part: Putting everything back! Two pieces of advice for this process. The first is to put the spices you use most often in the easiest-to-reach place. The second is to not worry too much about finding the perfect solution—it can be easy to get mired in the pursuit of a Pinterest-perfect spice cabinet but resist that urge. When it comes to spices, function over form will serve you better.

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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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