Do you have spices that have lived in your spice cabinet for a long time? For years, maybe? Do you feel guilty throwing those spices out? Do you tell yourself that the minute you throw out that obscure spice you’ll find a recipe that calls for it?
Here is a quick primer on spices you should have on hand. If you’ve got spices all over the kitchen, can’t find the oregano, have 4 open vanilla extracts, and 8-year-old star anise, it’s time to get that herb and spice collection under control! And contrary to popular belief, spices do have a shelf life, so even if you possess a perfectly organized kitchen, a twice-yearly reassessment of your seasoning situation is smart. When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t neglect your spice cabinet!
Empty your spice cabinet and sort by spice. This makes it easy to see duplicates.
Check for freshness. Are the colors still vibrant, does the spice still smell fragrant? Toss any that have lost their color, texture, or aroma, or that are clumped or smell musty. If you have several of the same spice you can combine the jars or make spice blends.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of stale seasonings, and have gotten organized, it’s time to replenish your herb and spice supply. If you’re lucky enough to live near a spice market, definitely check it out.
Decide how you want you to store your spices. Do you want them out of site or on the counter? Do you want to keep your baking spices together with your savory spices? We swear by alphabetizing spices so that you don’t waste time looking for what you need.
And finally, here is a short list of the most common spices you should have on hand:
- All Spice
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Celery Seed
- Chili Powder
- Cinnamon – ground or stick
- Cream of Tarter
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Dill Weed
- Mustard dried
- Nutmeg – whole and ground
- Vanilla Bean and Extract
- Yellow Mustard Seed