Where’d the Thyme Go? Organizing Your Spice Rack

It’s not pretty. All of those different sized jars rolling around in your drawer, or stacked on top of each other in the cabinet. The duplicates, the spills, the rooting around for what you need while the soup you need it for boils over.

There is hope. You can organize the most disorganized place in the kitchen. But first you have to be willing to be brutal. Take a deep breath and inhale.

Does the pepper still have the power to make you sneeze? Does the dill have that vibrant green color or is it a dull sad thing? Does the oregano taste nothing remotely like oregano? If your spices have lost their color, aroma and taste, it’s time to lose them. “You need to know when to say goodbye,” say the organization experts at The Container Store.

As you begin to rethink your life with spice, think cool and dark. That’s because spices fade quickly when stored near heat or sunlight. But you need your go-to spices close by when you cook at the stove, right?

Julie O’ Brien, a North Shore personal chef, has a suggestion. “Keep Kosher salt, ground pepper and a salt and pepper mixture in small cups near the stove,” she shares. “You’ll need those every time you cook.”

O’Brien keeps the rest of her spice collection in drawers near (but not too near) the stove. To preserve both the spices and the time hunting for them, she recommends small glass jars that come with pre-printed labels.

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Amazon set of 6 glass jars, $9

O’Brien prefers all her jars the same size but recognizes it’s unrealistic. She suggests that bags of spices or seasonings can be kept in good order with simple plastic containers set in your drawer.

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We found just the thing with these deep bins by Linus at The Container Store, $15- 17.

Now if you’re a cabinet person, tiered organizers allow you to easily read the labels. This modern rack comes with 18 glass jars and is still compact.

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Kohls glass jars and rack, $30

Or, take large size Mason jars and small jelly jars. Make 2 rows and create a tiered look. Grab a label maker and voilà!

So now that you know where to put them, the question is how to group them. O’Brien groups by cuisine. “ I keep rosemary, thyme, parsley and sage together. All my chili peppers and curry powders are grouped together,.” she says. Saving time—whether you are a chef or home cook—is the nirvana you are trying to reach. Having all your spices grouped ethnically helps you grab what you need fast.

Alphabetical order is another way to go, and there’s nothing wrong with grouping them by use. You know, the saying, “keep your loved ones close?” It works with spices, too..

Mark your calendar for six months from now to check on those barely used spices. The best part? Now you know exactly where the thyme goes.