Sunday, June 22, 2008

Where to keep your kitchen spices

Spices and dried herbs need to be stored cool, dark and dry to keep their best flavor, especially if you don't use them up very quickly. An open shelf over the range doesn't meet these needs at all, even though you often see it in magazine pictures. Maybe the people in those kitchens use up their matched sets of herbs really fast - or maybe they don't use them at all and the bottles never get opened!

So, what to do in real kitchens?

First, where do you use your herbs and spices? I use mine in more than one place - at the range, at the prep area, and when I'm baking. So ideally I'd want storage at all those places. Not necessarily duplicating everything in each place, but making sure that the ones I use in each place are there to use.

Next, how much do you use them? If you're a frequent user and you use them up fast, then having the most-used jars out and readily to hand makes sense, and you'll use them up quickly enough that they won't lose their potency. Otherwise, you'll want to have them put away but easy to reach when you need them. Some of the best choices for achieving this are:

A drawer - you can store the jars upright if you label the tops, or use sloping supports that tip them back so you can read the labels on the fronts.

A spice rack inside a cabinet door beside the range keeps them dark and dry though possibly a bit warm. Two out of three ain't bad.

A narrow pantry-style pullout can fit in a small space that would otherwise be wasted, and provides a lot of storage for different sized jars and bottles. Usually there will be space for oils and vinegars too, which is a bonus.

Got other ideas? Tell us how you store herbs and spices in your own kitchen!

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