Was trying to find some Cajun blackened seasoning the other day and had to empty the entire contents of nearly two shelves of spices before finding it. It was waaay in the back. I noticed there were several other spice containers in that long forgotten region of the cupboard such as: cream of tartar, ‘hamburger seasoning’, mace, annatto (whatever the hell that is), and imitation vanilla flavoring (we have a big bottle of the real thing that’s conveniently accessible in front). Perhaps it’s time to cull a few of those little used spices – maybe apply the same ‘three year rule’ that goes with any other household item during spring cleaning.
I never really took formal stock of it before, but I guess we have a lot, I mean a LOT, of spices in our kitchen. Dried spices tend to keep their potency for many years so if we did some major spice cleaning out it would probably be more a function of space than due to the degradation of the product (but Haysoos, annatto? we haven’t used it once since we moved in 10 years ago!). I remember one time some years ago Mrs. M went to some pains to arrange the spices alphabetically on the shelves, but that turned out to be a somewhat inconvenient arrangement as things like, well, annatto that were never used ended up being in front and things like white pepper (which we use with some frequency) got shoved in back. No, I guess the current Darwinian spice-organization-model is probably the one that works best.
We didn’t start out with an entire spice cupboard, and in fact have a couple of nice looking spice racks (which are arranged alphabetically) which we started out with that hold about a score of spice bottles a piece. The problem with those, however, is that they don’t hold larger bottles – things that get some usage like: seasoned salt, cinnamon sugar, sage, and bay leaves. Those ended up in the cupboard and reproduced when we weren’t looking and gave birth to things like Sam’s Club sized peppercorns containers, chicken and beef bullion cube containers, and some of the vacuum-sealed cayenne, dill, and parsley that came out of the garden. They simply require more space to accommodate than a standard spice rack has.
So how about you – do you do enough cooking at home to warrant having spice storage beyond salt & pepper shakers? What spices find themselves in heavy use/rotation at your house? Which spices collect dust? What is the OLDEST container of spice in your household? And does anyone know of a good recipe maybe for annatto cake?
Tell us about your spice racks.