Elly Leavitt

Published on February 7, 2020

Often, the pantry is where spices go to die. Between the novelty blends you picked up on a whim and the backups of your favorite that you accidentally purchased, it’s easy for them to be forgotten. If this sounds familiar, we’ve found your weekend project: Decant your oregano and cinnamon into matching glass bottles.

It’s a common-sense idea that pro organizer Shira Gill recently reminded us about when she revamped a blogger’s kitchen simply by getting rid of product packaging and streamlining storage vessels to make the whole space feel more uniform—and this method works especially well in compact areas, like spice-packed cupboards. We tapped Ivan Fitzgerald, co-owner of Washington, D.C’s Bazaar Spices for more steps on shaping up your spice cabinet. 

Do an Inventory

Take stock of your current rotation—is it possible there are two garlic salts? See what you can consolidate and eliminate accordingly.  

Toss, Toss, Toss

Did you know you’re supposed to toss most seasonings after about six months? The exact timing depends on the type, but in general, Fitzgerald recommends keeping whole spices for about eight to 12 months, herbs for four to six, and anything ground for three to four. 

That said, the date isn’t the only indicator. “You know if it’s still good to hang on to if it has a strong, pungent aroma and vibrant color characteristic of the spice,” Fitzgerald adds. Anything ground should have an almost sticky consistency; “toss anything that’s dull and flat.” 

Reuse Old Vessels

If you’d rather not purchase a whole new set of jars, give what you have a mini makeover. Fitzgerald suggests washing empty bottles, jars, and tins with a gentle detergent—and be sure to peel off any old labels. “If you have a container that had a particularly pungent aroma, fill it with white rice, and let it sit for a few days to pull out the smell,” he says.

Keep Them in the Dark

“Air and sunlight are two things that really degrade the quality quickly,” he says. Free up a shady corner in your kitchen or save a shelf in your cupboard.

Group Like Spices

Arrange your collection by frequency of use so you always have the turmeric for your morning latte within easy reach. Keep any dynamic duos together too. For instance, if you use coriander in the same dishes as you do cumin, store them next to each other. If nothing else, it will help cut down on prep time—who doesn’t love that? 

See more ways to organize your kitchen:
This $18 Amazon Best Seller Organizes Way More Than Just Knives
How to Organize Your Kitchen, According to a Professional Chef
New Year, New Kitchen: How to Reorganize Your Space Like a Chef

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