The new year always seems like the perfect time to tackle organizing projects on the homestead. Cleaning and organizing around the house is a great way to have a fresh start to the new year. Life slows down on the homestead in the middle of winter so we have plenty of time on our hands now to tackle these much needed organizing projects. Redoing our spice storage and organizing a spice cupboard is pretty low on my list of priorities later in the year when I have seedlings to plant in the greenhouse, a 7,000 square foot garden to plant, water, weed and tend. Then comes harvest time and all the canning and preserving that keeps me busy from dawn till dusk some days. No wonder I decided that a snowy winter day would be the perfect time to reorganize our messy spice cupboard!
So why do I need to revamp our spice storage? Well, partly because our spice cabinet turned into a total wreck in the two years since we moved to this homestead. Our spices were stored in a hodge podge of plastic or paper spice bags, plastic zip bags and various sized plastic tubs and glass jars. Nothing stacked well, the bags were all in a jumble and the spice cupboard was bursting at the seams with this big mess. Sometimes when we opened the door to the spice cupboard, a jar would come sliding out and crashing to the counter (and if we were lucky it wouldn’t break!) In addition to the mess, I always worry a bit about storing any type of food product in plastic long term due to possible leaching of the plastic toxins into the food. I had no idea if the plastic spice bags or plastic tubs were BPA free so decided I really wanted them all stored in glass jars.
I like things to be nice and organized so at one point in my life had each little spice bag organized alphabetically (yes, I know that’s a bit Type A of me but it was so easy to find a spice that way and it was also before I became a parent and I had a bit more time on my hands!) The spices in little bags came from the local natural grocery store and always had the name of the spice on them. Sometimes the bags didn’t seal properly, which we didn’t realize until they would spill and make more of a mess in the spice cabinet!
Some of the spices stored in plastic zip bags or repurposed glass jars were not labeled. Most of the spices that weren’t labeled were either homegrown or wild harvested herbs and spices. This wasn’t a big deal when I was the only one cooking in the kitchen. I can often tell the identity of a spice just by looking at it and always by smelling it.
Unlabeled spice jars started to become a problem when my husband began spending more time cooking in the kitchen over the last couple years. I love that he is learning to cook more foods and give me a break from cooking every night. The last thing I wanted to do was deter his newfound cooking skills by scaring him away from the kitchen anytime he opened our messy spice cabinet! The real disaster was when he pulled out the unlabeled salt jar and thought it was white sugar…..I think that experience is what really spurred on my need to put my spice storage ideas into action and reorganize the spice cupboard. Over the last couple years I’ve been trying to come up with some spice storage ideas that would work in our kitchen and last winter I finally found the answer!
Spice Storage & Reorganization in Action
To start organizing the spice cabinet, I pulled everything out to sort through the mess. There were some spices in there that I never use and some that were so old they probably didn’t have much flavor anymore. These spices “got the chuck” as we like to say on our homestead anytime we have to throw something out. After I was able to assess what we had, I figured out that the best way to organize the spices was to have more uniform size jars and to make sure they were all labeled.
We spent some time researching glass jars on Amazon and ended up buying some of these 2 ounce glass jars. I also bought these round white sticker labels to put on the lids of the jars. When the glass jars arrived, I started the slow process of pouring all the spices from their bags and random jars into the new uniform sized glass jars. I wrote the name of each spice on a round white label and placed this on the lid of the corresponding jar.
Some of the spices we use a lot of, like salt, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, etc. It seemed silly to put these spices in a small jar I would have to reguarlly refill from another larger bag or jar. Instead these spices were placed into small 4 ounce canning jars (you can find them here), jelly jars and the salt went in a pint size jar. I put a round white label on each of these lids also.
Our spices are stored in an antique metal cabinet that fits perfectly on the cupboard shelf in the kitchen. There is a shelf in the metal cabinet to allow for more stacking without everything having to be stacked super tall on top of each other. On the bottom of the cabinet are the smaller glass jars that stack perfectly on top of each other. On the top shelf are the small glass canning jars that store the larger quantities of spices. Since the jars are glass, I often can find what I am looking for just by seeing the spice through the clear side of the glass jar.
I actually reorganized our spice cabinet last winter and had the best intentions of sharing it with you all then but time got away from me and it never happened. I can happily say that one year later, our spice cabinet is just as organized and tidy as it was when I first reorganized it last year! The best part is that there haven’t been any more salt/sugar mix ups in the kitchen and my husband is still cooking in the kitchen a couple days a week!