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How to keep herbs and spices in perfect form…

Herbs and spices are cooking essentials that appear in some way, shape or form in every kitchen. Yet even great cooks find it challenging to keep their spice rack or spice shelf organized and fresh.

The object is keeping your most-used spices in an accessible spot, while maintaining all of the others on a regular basis. Here are a few tips to get you started on a spicy makeover.

Step 1: Take stock

Take all of the spices out of your pantry and place them on a clean surface. Now you can see everything you have and also take the opportunity to clean your pantry shelves.

Step 2: Plan

Figure out where you want your spices to go. You could put them all in one area of the pantry or choose to separate them. One idea is to put regularly used spices near the stove or on a counter top in plain sight while storing lesser used spices in the pantry.

Step 3: Sort

Figure out a sorting method that makes the most sense for how you work. You can sort alphabetically, by flavor, or sort by regular use versus specialty use.

Step 4: Toss

Once everything is sorted, throw away any spices beyond their expiration date, that appear stale or that are damaged in any way.

Use your senses on unmarked spices to tell whether they should stay or go. Are the colors vibrant? Does the spice look washed out? Does it look brittle? How does it smell? When in doubt, throw it out.

If you are doubled up on unopened spices see if your neighbor could use some or bring them to a local food pantry.

Step 5: Consolidate

Get rid of duplicate spices. If you have two jars of cinnamon half full and they’re both fresh…consolidate them into one jar.

Step 6: Store

Evaluate your method of storage. Does it allow you to easily see and have access to what you have in stock? Does the location you’ve chosen protect your spices from too much heat and light?

There are a number of pantry accessories you can use to make spice storage simpler, such as a lazy Susan or a tiered shelf. You can also install a spice rack to the inside of the pantry door.

Step 7: Label

You can either leave spices in the container they come in or transfer them to your own jars and canisters. No matter which method you use, apply bold labels to make them easier to find when you need them.

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