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Whether you’re the family foodie or you can barely boil water, chances are you’ve kicked it up a notch with a dash of salt or a pinch of pepper.
As long as humans have been eating, they’ve been adding spices to their food. In fact, archeologists say early hunter gatherers covered meat in leaves and berries and that’s how they stumbled upon spice’s ability to enhance the taste of meat.
Ancient Egyptians spiced food with cardamom and cinnamon. During the Han dynasty, Chinese courtiers carried cloves in their mouths to sweeten their breath before meeting with the emperor. By the Middle Ages, spices were so costly — a pound of nutmeg was worth seven fat oxen! — few but the wealthy could afford them.
Eventually a trade route was established, the Silk Road. It brought Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East together for one of the greatest cultural exchanges in history. Without spice trading on the Silk Road centuries ago, we wouldn’t enjoy cinnamon lattes, curry chicken, and gingerbread cookies today.
With such an impressive history, it’s ironic that most of us store our spices the way we do — motley collections of glass jars, plastic bottles, and sandwich bags filled with desiccated bay leaves all jammed into a cupboard. We here at mDesign feel your pain. That’s why we’ve got five foolproof ways to store spices so you can get the most out of them.
But before you rearrange your kitchen cabinets, there’s something you must do: purge. Still holding on to that jar of garam masala you bought in 2015 for that aloo gobi recipe you saw on YouTube? Let it go.
We know, we know—we sound like a broken record when it comes to purging. But it’s really one of the most important steps to an organized life. If you don’t purge before you organize, you’ll end up storing the spices you don’t use and cluttering your kitchen counter with the ones you do.
Another reason to throw out spices is because they go bad. They don’t spoil the way avocados or bananas do; spices gradually lose their flavor and potency. Cooking with old spices can add odd, unintended flavors to dishes.
If you can’t read the expiration date on your spice’s label, well, that’s a hint. But if you need more confirmation, sprinkle a little in your hand. If the aroma is faint and the color is faded, toss it. When estimating your spices’ freshness, experts suggest you follow these guidelines:
Now that you’ve purged, let’s look at storage ideas for the spices that made the cut.
Air is your arch-enemy when it comes to storing spices. The moisture in air can cause powdered spices to cake. Air can also make the natural oils in spices evaporate, which leads to flavor loss. Glass is the best way to keep spices fresh. Glass containers aren’t porous, and, with a tight-fitting lid, air can’t get in to degrade your spices.
We love mDesign’s Bamboo Countertop Kitchen Spice Rack. Its glass jars and stainless-steel lids protect spices, while the 2-tiered, angled design makes them easily accessible. Plus, the cute, eco-friendly bamboo base complements any kitchen style.
Light can be as damaging to spices as air, especially to richly pigmented spices like red chili powder and golden turmeric. Spices need to be stored in a cool (70° F is a good temp), dry, dark place. Kitchen drawers are ideal for keeping your seasonings fresh—or they would be if the jars and bottles would stay in place.
We’ve got the perfect storage solution: mDesign’s Expandable Kitchen Spice Rack Drawer Organizer. Its slim design fits most drawers, and its angled levels make it easy to see the oregano when you’re cooking pasta.
Consider using this tiered spice drawer for your go-to spices. Seasoned cooks (pun intended) recommend keeping these seven spices on hand at all times: pepper, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt.
Cabinets are cool, dry, and dark, too. But it’s almost impossible to find spices in an unorganized cabinet, as anyone who’s spent fifteen minutes fumbling around for fennel will tell you.
A pull-down spice rack organizer solves your problem. The drop-down feature displays your spices at eye-level. The retractable design stores spices vertically and keeps them visible —even when they’re inside the cabinet.
Another way to keep spices within easy reach is a lazy Susan. Revolving trays were first used in 13th century China, but no one really knows how they got the name lazy Susan. Legend has both Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison naming the turntable after their low-energy daughters.
At mDesign, we’ve put our own spin on spice storage. Our 2 Tier Plastic Kitchen Lazy Susan Turntable has two levels to maximize vertical storage and a lip around the outer edge to keep items in place as the tray turns. It’s versatile enough to use on counters and in kitchen cabinets.
The Pantry is a great place to store spices, too. It’s perfect in terms of light and temperature and it has way more space than a drawer or cabinet. But don’t clutter up your pantry shelves with spices. Create storage space on the pantry door with mDesign’s 3 Tier Adhesive Wall Mount Kitchen Spice Rack. It’s easy to install— no hardware or drilling needed—and it looks great anywhere.
Head over to mdesignhomedecor.com for more storage solutions because you know what they say:
variety is the spice of life.
Lisa Langford is a Senior Copywriter at mDesign
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Jun 11, 2021