Spice Cabinet Organization

I did quite a bit of inventorying, purging and reorganizing of my main food storage spaces (pantry and freezer) earlier in the year, but never got around to taking stock of my spice cabinet. Finally a few weeks ago I took the time to go through all that I had accumulated. It was a little horrifying. I had a lot of duplicates. I also had a few items that I decided really shouldn’t be kept any longer. Generally herbs and spices just lose power, they don’t really go bad, so I tend to hang on to things and just use more? But really, some of these were outside of what even I am comfortable using. Despite the excess of many things, I also was out of some key essentials (or almost out). Ugh. I’m hoping that this reorg keeps me on better track, as I consolidated a few things, did a better job of sorting like with like (where possible or applicable) and also just made a list of what is on hand! I have pictures of what had been stored on each almost every shelf as well as a picture of the final, reorganized cabinet. And, of course, an inventory of what I have on hand.

File Mar 26, 9 45 41 PM

These spices had been on the bottom shelf of my spice cupboard. I use one of those expandable risers to more easily see what I have available. There are some duplicates here:

  • garam masala
  • ginger
  • mustard seed
  • ground cardamom
  • ground thyme
  • cinnamon
  • more mustard seed
  • dried rosemary (almost empty)
  • chipotle chili powder
  • nutmeg (whole)
  • curry powder
  • wasabi powder
  • tarragon
  • dill weed
  • cayenne (empty)
  • curry powder
  • cinnamon sticks
  • med. chili powder (this is actually really spicy)
  • cardamom pods
  • ancho chili powder (empty)
  • celery seed
  • red curry powder
  • ginger (nearly empty and old)
  • ground cloves
  • turmeric root
  • bay leaves
  • chinese five spice powder
  • cream of tartar
  • smoked paprika (empty)
  • even more mustard seed
  • sugar (jelly jar)
  • flour (for roux or other uses where I don’t want to grab the big canister)
  • dried mustard powder
  • and MORE mustard seed (this time brown)
  • ground allspice
  • more dill weed
  • two very old jars of curry paste (tossed)

File Mar 26, 9 45 19 PM

On the middle shelf I have two lazy susans, plus I tuck extra spices in as I can. These items are from one lazy susan:

  • dried onion
  • oregano
  • a very tiny bit of cumin in a very large container
  • onion powder
  • more oregano
  • black pepper
  • more onion powder
  • dried basil
  • crushed red pepper flakes (I keep a larger jar of this in my pantry and just refill this very old container…we use these quite a bit)
  • garlic salt
  • thyme (leaves, not ground)
  • cayenne pepper
  • powdered sugar (I keep a small amount in a shaker so that I can decorate cakes/scones if desired)
  • saffron
  • more dried mustard powder
  • sazon w/cilantro and achiote (other sazon in pantry…)
  • achiote
  • autumn harvest spice blend (st. augustine)
  • pumpkin pie spice (st. augustine)

File Mar 26, 9 48 19 PM

And these items are on the second lazy susan:

  • liquid smoke
  • hot sauce
  • bakers blend spice mix (st. augustine)
  • homemade taco seasoning
  • homemade chili powder (which I don’t like, so it’s just been hanging out — I need to use it up)
  • cajun seasoning
  • old bay
  • more cream of tartar
  • baking powder
  • vanilla
  • almond extract
  • mint extract
  • butter flavoring (part of a homemade butter beer kit that was a gift)

Finally, the top shelf. What a mess this was. I actually can’t find my photo, but Found the pics! There was a large tupperware bowl that held a number of random spices and spice mixes in bags and then lots and lots of tins and containers from the Mennonite store (at home) and random jars of homemade or premade mixes (like Mrs. Dash). This was truly horrifying — I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had something like 24 spice/herb blends on hand, most of which are these tiny ziploc bags of spice mixes and meat rubs from a tea and spice store in St. Augustine. It was/is ridiculous.



spices_top shelf

On the shelf:

  • ground coriander
  • poppy seeds
  • paprika
  • simon & garfunkel rub
  • specialty salt pack
  • vindaloo curry powder (super hot)
  • pretzel salt
  • bay leaves (very few, all broken pieces)
  • dried parsley
  • oregano
  • turmeric
  • mrs. dash lemon pepper
  • saffron
  • mrs. dash garlic & herb blend
  • mrs. dash steak seasoning
  • mrs. dash table blend
  • mrs. dash southwest chipotle
  • curry powder, reg.
  • sesame & ginger blend
  • chicken & rib dry rub
  • BBQ chicken rub
  • spicy Mexican dry rub

spices_tupperware_top shelf

In Tupperware:

  • everyday smoky rub
  • smoked salt rub
  • Mongolian style bbq rub
  • au jus gravy mix (why do I have this? I never use these mixes)
  • whole nutmeg, 2 pks
  • hot paprika
  • california herb blend (st. augustine)
  • signature spice blend (st. augustine)
  • sundried tomato dipping spices
  • salmon tea rub (st. augustine)
  • espresso steak rub (st. augustine)
  • tailgaters spice blend (st. augustine)
  • smoked sea salt (st. augustine)
  • matanzas chili spice blend (st. augustine)
  • island sweet blend (st. augustine)
  • chardonnay smoked sea salt (st. augustine)
  • seafood blackening (st. augustine)
  • ras al hanout (st. augustine)
  • grilled fish blend (st. augustine)
  • cinnamon sticks (two packages)
  • ground cardamom
  • ground turmeric
  • whole cloves
  • pesto allo genovese (dried, gift)
  • cinnamon
  • unnamed spice blend

Ridiculous, right? I consolidated as much as possible, threw out some really old stuff and generally just reorganized. In addition to the long list above, I also keep some bulk-size containers in my pantry, which include:

  • chili powder
  • peppercorns
  • seasoned salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • cinnamon
  • mrs. dash original
  • mrs. dash garlic and herb (except — I was out! the horror — i use this quite a lot)
  • costco no-salt seasoning
  • steak seasoning (montreal style)
  • dried chives
  • dried mint
  • seasonings for popcorn

Despite ALL these items in my cupboards, I actually needed a few things like dried rosemary, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, the Mrs. Dash garlic and herb blend, etc. I recently signed up for the Penzey’s email list and while generally I am happy to purchase most spices at a bargain grocer, there are a few things I think are just worth spending a few more dollars on. They had a few freebie offers that I took advantage of and so for the most part my spice cabinet is stocked with all the things I find essential as well as all the extras I’ve accumulated over time. Except I forgot to pick up the Mrs. Dash when I was at BJs this month, darn it.

File Mar 26, 9 46 00 PM

Here is the final, reorganized cupboard. It’s still stuffed pretty full, but spices have been moved around for better usability. And now that I have a list of all those spice blends (in my defense, MOST of those were gifts) as well as an inventory of all spices on hand, I’ve been working more diligently to use them in my cooking.

Are you a minimalist when it comes to spices, herbs and other seasonings? Or more of a maximalist like me? Do your friends and families like to give you culinary gifts that sometimes take a while to use up?

ETA 4/22/17 to include pictures of top shelf spices before reorganization.


10 thoughts on “Spice Cabinet Organization

    1. I put off this task for a while, but it’s so satisfying to have it taken care of and some order restored to that cupboard, now!

  1. That was a big but every satisfying job, wasn’t it?

    I did that back in 2013 because I was tired of buying the same spices over and over again because I never knew if I was out or not. I keep my spices forever, my palate isn’t so refined that it makes a difference or not.

    I posted pictures for you of my 2013 reorg project on my post dated 4/19. What I did was take a 3-drawer plastic “chest” that wasn’t being used and put it under my kitchen island. Then I emptied all my cupboards of the spices, inventoried them, printed round labels for them, laminated them and hot glued them to the caps. Then I sorted them alphabetically in the drawers. Now when I open a drawer, I just have to look at the labels. Most of the spice caps are interchangeable from brand to brand so I haven’t had to make new labels yet, and if the cap isn’t interchangeable, then I change the bottle because I’m too darn lazy to go through all this to just make 1 label, hahaha. I do keep the spices I use most right by my stove, which is supposedly a bad idea but I don’t care. I grow my own basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and oregano outside. Mint too, but I never use it. I grew cilantro once upon a time but it goes to seed too fast! I mix a lot of my own seasonings. Once upon a time I was able to order spices in bulk from Frontier (when my friend had a co-op) and I save a ton of ground mustard, cinnamon, ground coriander, etc by buying them a lb at a time. So I can’t wait for Bulk Nation to open this July because I need to replenish some of those supplies. Spices sold in little bottles cost so much. I’ve heard of Penzey but it sounds like one of those websites where I would go nuts and order a bunch of stuff that I would end up never using!

    1. I loved the pictures of your spice drawers! The cupboard pictured is close to the stove, although not right over it. The convenience outweighs any degradation in quality, especially as I can’t really tell that the heat actually does anything. I can tell when spices are old, but not heat blasted.

      I love getting the bulk quantities of some things at BJs. It really is helpful. And Penzey’s is wonderful, although, yes, my money tends to dance right out of my wallet. We do have a brick and mortar store here, which is better for me than the website as far as keeping track of my money is concerned!

  2. I’m a total spice “maximumalist” (is that a word?).
    I am trying some container herbs in hope of drying some this summer. I figure worstcase scenario I’ll just end up with enough to use fresh.

    1. I expect that if you cook a lot and enjoy it, your collection of herbs and spices tends to be large. Right? That’s what I tell myself to justify it, anyway!

      I’ve been successful growing basil in a container but not really enough to dry. Although I did get enough to make a batch of pesto!

  3. Loved seeing all the spices you have. They do say that “variety is the spice of life” so, if you have a variety of spices, then, that has to be good! I tend to buy a lot of spices in bulk. I store them in two of my kitchen drawers. The drawers are right next to the stove, so it is easy for me to reach in and grab something. I use all kinds of bottles and jars and cans to store them and just write the names on pieces of masking tape! But now, Nathalie has me wanting labels like hers!

    1. Clearly, I have tons of variety in my life! 😉 My cupboard is near the stove, too, which is so helpful.

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