Organization is the Spice of Life
I dislike spice racks—those awful powder-coated ornamental metal racks with pre-labeled, pre-packed spices and their counterparts in beechwood with Lazy Susans built into the base. They just don’t make sense for most cooks or most kitchens. They’re merely decorative at best but, as I remember the one mounted behind my grandmother’s range, more often covered in unsightly dust and grime.
At some point, though, I realized our own system of tumbling stacks of assorted jars wasn’t really working. It was hard to see what we had, what was running low, and in addition to the stuffed shelf of spices, we had several larger containers tucked away in another space. Inspired by an old Door Sixteen post from January ’09, I picked up a crop of RATIONELL VARIERA racks from IKEA on New Year’s Day.
A note on the installation: IKEA’s instructions recommend removing the door to which you’ll be mounting the racks and doing the project on a flat surface. In theory, this seems very practical, and in a kitchen with IKEA’s own cabinets installed it might even be easy. But given the thick and many layers of paint covering every hinge in our kitchen, I determined pretty quickly that the door wasn’t coming down. Bar clamps to the rescue! I was able to secure the door with clamps to another door, giving enough stability to drill.
Knowing that we’d have to leave some spices in the existing cupboard, we chose those for the door by frequency of use and by grouping types of herbs and spices together. Herbs fit in the top rack, another holds seeds, baking spices fill the third row, and the most colorful group sits at the bottom: sumac, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, and paprika. We kept salts and peppers and Tom’s collection of Penzeys curries on the shelf along with saffron packages and bay leaves (the only flavoring that refused to fit through the smallish mouths of the IKEA jars).
For the labels, I bought a few sheets of adhesive-backed paper and used a Martha Stewart punch to make the shapes.
Transferring the majority of the spices (above left) to the racks on the cupboard door created room for olive oil and prep bowls in this space (above right).
I finished this project on January 2, and a month later, it still brings me way too much happiness to see these neatly labeled groups of spices gracing the inside of our cabinet door every day. It’s so nice to have easy access to all our flavorings and enjoy their colors through clear glass. As a bonus, the easy-open lids make the jars great for cooking. And so far, there’s only a little bit of dust on top of the jars…