Do you have an array of tasty spices but no good way to organize them? If you have a small kitchen with limited space or a large kitchen with an abundant amount of cabinets, we’ll show you the best (and most unique) spice storage ideas to accommodate your space. Plus, print out our free spice shelf life chart that also gives you tips for getting the most out of each delicious flavor. And as a bonus, we also made a free printable spice tracker so you know when your spices expire. But first, an interesting backstory on the evolution of spices that you’ve probably never heard before…
History of Spices
Spices have been around for quite some time, dating back to 3500 BC when the ancient Egyptians used them for flavoring, the production of cosmetics, and for mummifying the pharaohs. The Egyptians that worked on the pyramids even used onions and garlic to keep their energy levels up while performing manual labor.
Spices eventually made their way to the rest of the world, but it wasn’t an easy road. For nearly 5,000 years, Arab middlemen ran the spice trade, which made spices hard to acquire and extremely pricey in Europe until their explorers found their own spice-producing countries in the East. When Christopher Columbus made his voyage to America, he uncovered a slew of new and delicious spices like chocolate, vanilla, chili peppers, and allspice. America then became a significant player in the spice trade through a good part of the 19th century.
Today, spices are enjoyed by most cultures across the world and many have become staples to certain cuisines. When we aren’t flavoring, coloring, and preserving food with spices, we’re using them for medicinal purposes. For instance, did you know ginger can relieve nausea, or that cumin increases immunity and metabolism? Yep, spices sure are something special. And that means we need to take the proper steps to get the most out of them and increase their shelf life…no pun intended.
Spice Storage Ideas
Organizing your spices in a small kitchen can be a tricky task to say the least. You probably don’t have a lot of cupboard or counter space, but you still need to be able to access your spices quickly and easily. Here are a few unique spice storage ideas to make seasoning your next meal a breeze:
Go back to the basics and use an organizer that was designed exclusively with spice storage in mind: the spice rack. Tiered spice organizers make all of your seasonings easy to view and grab in an instant. Spice racks are best used when you want to store your spices in a cupboard or pantry.
Maybe you don’t have a kitchen pantry or much cupboard space at all. No problem! Just store your spices in a spice drawer. All you need is some spice drawer organizers that cradle the spice jars and keep them from sliding around. Simply cut the spice drawer organizers to the desired length place your spices face-up so you can read what they are and you’ve got an instant spice drawer! If you have a large kitchen and want to store your spices in a drawer, place a spice drawer organizer that sections off your drawer to fit your needs. These are perfect for separating your larger spice canisters or your most often used spices.
Spice Storage Ideas for Apartments
If your cupboard space is really limited, use a standalone spice holder on a shelf or in a cupboard. This compact spice organizer holds 24 jars and includes 96 labels so you can find which spice you need without taking the time to open the unit. If you don’t have cupboard or drawer space to store your spices, but you still want them to be organized, install a paper towel and wrap dispenser that has a spice rack right on top. This unique spice holder takes up no cupboard space, no counter space and works perfectly as a small kitchen storage solution. Just mount it on the wall for easy access to kitchen essentials when you need them.
Spice Shelf Life Chart & Tracker + Helpful Spice Storage Tips
- Whole spices stay fresher longer than ground ones. Whole dry spices can last up to 4 years, while ground spices last 2-3 years.
- Want to know how to tell if your spices are fresh? Simply taste them! If a pungent spice like cumin has a dull taste, it is probably no longer good.
- Store your spices away from the stove. Heat, moisture, and too much sunlight can decrease the shelf life of a spice.
- If you choose to buy whole spices, grind them in a coffee grinder before adding them to your dish to enjoy a stronger, purer flavor.
- Dried spices are stronger than fresh ones. If you opt to use fresh spices, you will have to use more (approximately 3 times) to achieve optimal flavor in each dish.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try mixing a few of your favorite spices to come up with your own delicious and unique flavor.