We’re all guilty…you’re at the grocery and you have Pizza Stromboli on the menu this week. You know it calls for dried oregano, but you can’t remember if you have any at home, or if you do; is there enough? So you would rather be safe than sorry, and buy more; only to get home and find you have two bottles already in the spice drawer. We’ve all been there. Because there was that one time during dinner prep when you didn’t have what you needed to make a recipe and swore that you’d never be without again! And now you can barely shut the overflowing spice drawer, let alone find what you need! Check out our tips for a cleaner, fresher and organized spice drawer to ensure you have fresh spices on hand when you need them!
You have a drawer full of spices, when do you toss the old and replace with new? Well, spices and herbs are best the first 3-4 months after they have been opened and retain their flavor for about a year. They don’t go bad necessarily, but lose their potency to give you the best result in your recipes. Whole seeds last longer, say a year or two. Give them a quick smell, your nose will clue you in when you are uncertain, the aroma will weaken over time, so if you can barely smell basil in the jar – toss it. Some things like poppy seeds and sesame seeds will go rancid, so it is best to replace them more often (better yet, store them in your fridge door). And when you buy new, mark a purchase date on them so you don’t have to play the guessing game next time!
Organizing your spices; start by first taking a quick inventory of what’s in there. If you have dates on your jars and bottles and they are within the shelf life, put them aside and throw away anything else you are unsure of, and give yourself a pat for being a spice goddess. Yeah, it stinks throwing out a bottle when you only used a teaspoon three years ago for that one dish, but it’s time, let it go. This is your time to purge and be free to toss away! Put your spices into groups, think about what you reach for most often, the ones you less often, and those you have no clue the last time you used or what on earth it is. Toss all the old ones, purge those you don’t recognize, combine any open jars if they are near the same age and get ready to organize. Spices should be kept away from heat, light and air, store them in a drawer or in a cabinet. If have space for a multi-tier shelf or lazy susan, get one, it makes it much easier to grab quickly while you are cooking. If you use a drawer they make nifty spice storage just for drawers, so you can have the labels looking right at you when you open the drawer, although they aren’t as space-saving as some others. There are many ways to organize, you can store them alphabetically, group by cuisine or by how often you use them. It is really up to what works best for you! An organized kitchen is one step closer to a more flavorful dinner!