My herb and spice collection is one of the two areas in my life where I can claim to be completely, totally and utterly organized, the other area being my paint rack (sorted by color progression and labeled accordingly, but that's another post). Whenever I need a seasoning of any kind, be it an herb, a spice, a blend or even one of the lesser known food components like guar gum or ammonium bicarbonate, I can put my hands on it without hesitation. With such an extensive array of potential ingredients how do I find exactly what I want without sorting through an array of containers to find what I want is always hidden away in the last place I look? Easy, I created a spice closet.
Beside my stove there is an old cabinet that used to house a pull down ironing board. While I thought that the ironing board was a quaint feature, it wasn't exactly practical when laundry happens at the opposite end of our home. So, off to the attic went the ironing board but what remains is a shallow cabinet that is perfectly placed for a spice rack. In an effort to preserve the original feature, should I ever want to restore it, I set about determining a way to repurpose the space without making any structural changes like removing the door or adding shelves. What I ended up with was a magnetic sheet cut to fit within the recessed area. The magnetic sheet hold tins filled with herbs and spices (sorted alphabetically of course). To take it one step further, I painted the inside of the door with chalkboard paint--available at any hardware store--this way I can jot down notes when developing a new recipe. But I digress.
Pantry Door Interior
In round tins I have herbs sorted alphabetically and stored in the upper region and spices, also sorted alphabetically, are stored in square tins in the lower region. As you can see in the photo, I have used windowed tins so i can see at a glance what is in each container. Of course, this space turned out to be inadequate to hold everything a creative cook could need so my collection expanded to the interior on the pantry door. in this area I keep seeds, blends and those out of the norm ingredients that aren't used quite as often. Of course, there is order among these as well. They are grouped by category like seeds such as anise, caraway, celery and sesame in round tins, blends in square tins, dried items such as mushrooms, and greens and finally the unusual ingredients, situated along the bottom, also in round tins. This may sound labor intensive at first but, take it from one who isn't inherently organized, it has been a remarkably effective system. I've been able to maintain this system this for the last fifteen-plus years!