A perfectly organized spice cabinet is a thing to aspire to. But in a tiny apartment rental the likelihood that there’s a cabinet that’s just right for neatly storing and displaying your spice collection is, well, not likely. And, if I may be so bold, I say forget the urge to buy a dedicated, rolling, door-hanging, shelf-hugging, doo-dad that will likely only half-work and won’t fit into the next place you find yourself. Ditto investing in expensive magnetic jars that you might tire looking at stuck to your fridge.
Instead, I say, organize your spices themselves. If they have to be stuck into an awkward corner, at least they’ll be properly labeled and neat all on their own.
In tackling my own hodgepodge of spice jars and bags and boxes, I resorted to the ubiquitous and dirt-cheap mason jar. A dozen four-ounce jelly jars was more than enough to handle everything that I had on hand already. Instead of using the two-piece canning lids they come with, I bought a stack of solid metal lids that I’d be able to easily take on and off without, say, spilling the cinnamon. I used washi tape and marker to label the lids. And I’ve stacked my jars according to frequency of use. Red pepper flakes in the front, coriander in the back, and so on.
Note: If you live in a tiny apartment and have many more than a dozen spices, it might be time to do a little soul searching about how many of those you use regularly. Storing dried herbs like thyme, or parsley, or rosemary, for instance, might be something that you decide to forgo in favor of buying fresh when you have the need. Similarly, it’s wise to keep in mind that spices have a shelf life. I love buying spices from markets that allow you to buy from bulk bins in just the amount you need. That way you won’t be stuck with a huge jar of Aleppo pepper that you’re still trying to make your way through a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, twenty years down the road. If twenty years sounds like an exaggeration, take a peek into your grandmother’s spice cabinet. And then add twenty more. It’s a problem. Nobody wants forty year-old Aleppo pepper.
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