3 Key Tips for Constructing Your “Spice Rack”
November 2, 2011 § 8 Comments
Happy Wednesday! I must say, I’ve come to enjoy Wednesdays a bit more, as I really love writing this little series and learning about all the wonderful things you guys are doing in your kitchen. You can check out previous posts from my series on constructing a fabulous and functioning kitchen here.
Now, for this week’s post I’d like to talk about spices, and how to construct your “spice rack.” I use quotes because truthfully, I’m not really a fan of those spice racks that come with the spices. How do you know if you’ll use the ones they give you? How can you rate the quality? Instead of succumbing to a prepackaged deal, here are my three tips for constructing and maintaining a useful spice selection in your cupboard:
1) The Staples The spices you’ll use repeatedly and thus need to buy will largely depend on the type of cooking you do. Do you make a lot of Italian food? Is your specialty Indian or Thai? Regardless of your culinary focus, there are a few key spices (and dried herbs) which I think are necessary for any kitchen and will keep you from running to the store for every recipe. Here’s my list:
- Bay Leaves
- Garlic Powder
- Cayenne or Red Pepper Flakes
- Cinnamon (and cloves, nutmeg, and allspice if you bake a lot)
Herbs like sage, basil, thyme, and rosemary I prefer to buy fresh.
2) Smart Shopping If you think the only way you can buy spices is in those heavily packaged bottles at the grocery store, think again! I hate having to buy a particular spice for a recipe only to use a teaspoon and then have a ton leftover. Though it make sound more expensive, health food or gourmet food stores that sell spices in bulk is actually a cheaper way to go. You can fill a little baggy with the exact amount you need and avoid paying for all that packaging or more spices than you’ll actually use. I absolutely love doing this and highly recommend you explore this option!
3) When to Renew If your spice bottles are beginning to gather dust or you’re not sure when they entered your kitchen, it might be time to renew. They do have a expiration date! To check if your spices are still fresh first look at their color. Then take a pinch, rub it between your fingers, and smell. If the color seems flat, or the flavor and smell seem weak- toss them! To help elongate the shelf life of your spices, store them in a cool, dark place (away from sources of heat like your stove, microwave, etc).
That’s it from me! What spices and herbs do you think are a must for any kitchen?