A Great Way to Store Spices

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

Takes less space and keeps them fresh better

One of the very first articles I wrote for The Boat Galley was about storing spices and I’ve written a number of additional ones since then, even making a mini-series out of them.  It’s definitely a topic that gets lots of questions!

A while ago, I posted on The Boat Galley’s Facebook page about checking your spices to make sure they’re still, well, spicy.

And reader Deb Perfitt left a comment about how she stores her spices:

I have a recipe box, you know the old fashion one? It would hold index cards so it’s pretty compact. I fill the snack Ziplocs with the herbs and spices, label them, then “file” them alphabetically. I keep the whole box in my fridge on board.

And once again, I had a “why didn’t I think of that?” moment.

Actually, I’d make two changes to Deb’s idea, both of them because there is always quite a bit of humidity and condensate in my refrigerator (it depends on the climate whether this is a problem for you or not) and moisture is the enemy of spices:

  • Instead of using an old recipe box (or a file box), I’d use a Lock & Lock or Sterilite container — something with a gasket to keep the moisture out, as it will permeate the bags to some extent.  An added bonus would be that the smell from the spices wouldn’t get out and into other foods (garlic-smelling milk, for example).
  • I’d use freezer bags instead of snack bags.  They’re heavier and less moisture-permeable.  The down side is that they take up more room — it seems insignificant until you realize the difference it makes when you have 30 different spices!  But they do hold more.

Deb’s system takes up a lot less space overall than keeping lots of little jars, too.  Actually, Deb said that when she can, she buys bulk spices and doesn’t even have the jars to throw away.  Double bonus:  not just less storage space but less trash.

Keep the box of spices near the top of the refrigerator so that it’s handy.  Also it’s the warmest place in the refrigerator and spices really don’t need to be cold, just cool is fine to prolong their life.

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Comments

  1. Jeff Janacek says:

    We put strips of the hooky part of velcro on the side of a cabinet, and cut out pieces of the furry velcro to stick on spice containers. It really works well to organize and store them. Folks ask us what will happen if it gets so rough they come loose. I tell them if that happens that’s least of our worries, just like our magnetic knife holder.

    • Sorry to disagree, but knives flying off a magnetic strip could definitely cause far worse problems than the waves. I don’t like the magnetic strips under any circumstances, but if you’re going to have them, please remove the knives before getting underway.

      • We’ve been in some very rough seas and have never had one move. I might add the magnetic thingy might be some sort of commercial duty; it takes a good tug to get them loose.

  2. Cindy Balfour says:

    Wow the knife comment sort of scared me too but maybe he meant that as being the bigger worry. I am definitely going to explore the Velcro idea….

  3. LaMarr Harding says:

    I also put my spices in zip lock plastic bags. I’ve cut the heat sealed corner off of the bag, cut the top and threads off of the spice bottle and screwed it in the hole left by cutting off the corner. I’ve also used the lids off of katsup bottles screwed in the corner of bags. I’ve put spices, baking soda, salt, ketsup, mustard, mayonaise and Tang in these bags, they take up less space as you use them. The refrigerated items go in the refrigerator and the dry spices go in a larger zip lock bag.

    As for velcro I use the hook side on everything: nail clippers, tweezers, brush, stapler, vitamin and pill bottles. I stick them to loop pile carpet glued on the walls.

    Paper towels are bungied to the corner of the ceiling. The bungie and the friction of the corner keeps them handy and doesn’t let them unroll like some holders do.

    • Something else that might help with moisture inside the Lock and Lock container is to throw a bit of rice in there. On our boat we keep our Splenda packets in one of those small Glad disposable type containers with a bit of rice. Never had an issue with moisture. If the spice containers have small enough holes you can even put rice inside. If rice is too small you can use larger things such at macaroni or other small pastas to absorb the moisture.

  4. I have used empty tic tac containers for spices and love them for spices. Since they are all the same size, it makes them easy to store. Here’s a great article by a camping blogger that shows them. http://www.seattlesundries.com/blogs/news/11721973-repurposed-tictac-boxes-for-travel-spices

    • I use a magnetic spice rack I made from tins and a 16 x 9 cut to fit magnetic square I glued to a board and hung above the stove. Not oncehas a spice container fell off the wall. I only place dry spices in them to avoid moisture issues.

  5. Here is a thought. i buy spices in bulk at home, been thinking about when I move aboard and start cruising. I have a food saver machine. thinking about vacume packing my spices in smaller sizes for long term storage, and when I start using them putting into my Lock-n-lock for “spices in use”.

  6. Just a heads up…I installed a magnetic knife strip and put the knives upside down (just in case they did fall) so the sharp part of the knife points up. We’ve lived on out boat full time for 2 years and been in some pretty rough seas. I’ve never had one knife fall. I also installed them above our counter top so if they ever do fall, they land on the counter.

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