Spice Organization

Moving into a new house always means new organizational challenges. All our boxes have been unpacked for a while now, but as we are living in our house, we are realizing what works and what doesn’t. Our spices all tossed in the same cupboard, all in different size/shape bottles were one of those items that simply weren’t working.

We have big plans for a pull-out spice cabinet beside our refrigerator, something like THIS. We planned accordingly for it while designing our kitchen by getting a 36″ wide cabinet for above the refrigerator even though it is only 30″ wide thus leaving us the 6″ needed to complete such a project. The problem is, this is a project we don’t anticipate working on anytime soon as we have many other priorities.

So while unpacking, all our spices, big and small, tall and short, plastic and glass, got tossed in the same cupboard. This quickly became a problem as we had a hard time reaching the spices at the back of the cupboard, or finding the smaller jars in between the bigger/taller ones. We often had to remove jars one by one until we found the one needed. It got annoying really quickly so we decided it was time to find a better way to organize them, even if it will only be temporarily.

The first step was to find somewhere better to store our spices. We agreed the empty drawer in our “island” was the best solution, readily accessible while cooking, it would give the perfect temporary storage space we needed (we didn’t want to add shelves to a cupboard or do anything permanent since the plan is to eventually built a pull-out spice cabinet beside the refrigerator).

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The second step was finding jars for all the spices. We agreed on a few characteristics that were important to us such as:

  • Fairly inexpensive;
  • Available if we need more eventually (as our spice collection grows);
  • Made out of glass (see-through and better to preserve the flavors);
  • Lid with a side to sprinkle and a side to spoon/pour;
  • Easy to clean;
  • Dimensions that would fit both the current drawer and the future pull-out cabinet.

We decided on these Ikea spice jars, at less than two dollars a jar.

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Step three was all about cleaning and sorting. After washing and fully drying our new spice jars, we began going through our spices, tossing the ones which were no longer fresh and keeping the others. We filled the new jars. Most of the spices fit in their new jars but a few, in bigger bottles had too much and weren’t able to fully fit in the new jars… We decided to keep the old bottles/jars in a bin in the cupboard until there was room for the remainder of them in the new jars.

We realized later on that this was not only great for spices bought in bigger quantities but also for new versus old spices. We had a few spices on their last miles which were transferred into the new jar, and of which we picked up more the next time we did groceries but we didn’t want to mix the newer spices with the older ones, so we put the new packages in the bin until we can finish our current ones and transfer them. 

The final step was probably my favorite, making labels. We didn’t want something too permanent until we can see how the jars fit in the pull-out cabinet so we decided to go with multi-use labels. I hand-wrote all the labels using a “fake calligraphy” technique.

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Here’s how I made them:

1. You will need black marker of your choice, pencil, eraser and of course labels in the shape/dimension of your choosing;

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2. Pencil in the name to get a feel for space/height, erase and re-center as needed;

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3. Go over the pencil letters with your marker making slight adjustments as needed;

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4. Eraser pencil markings;

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5. Fill to make it look more like calligraphy;

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6. Stick your label on the jars. For a cleaner look, we decided to put our labels in the same spot on each jar (with the pouring side of the lid on the left and the sprinkling side on the right).

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The labels are obviously not water-proof, but so far they have held up great on the jars even after being gently wiped with a wet cloth a few times.

How have you organized your spices? Did you also enjoy creating labels?


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