The January organizing bug has hit my house.
I spent an hour one day mastering the folding of fitted sheets. My linen closet is so beautiful I have considered inviting people over to look at it. I'm sure though that few would find this to be an exciting evening.
One of my proudest organization projects is my spice and herb collection. Steve and I both enjoy cooking so we have a fairly large spice and dried herb collection. After purchasing an expensive bottle of coriander only to find another one in the back of the cabinet, I decided we had to have a system to easily determine if we had certain spices.
My mother-in-law, who was the queen of organization, used an expandable, three-tier rack for storing her spices that I acquired when we cleaned out their cottage, so I followed her lead. I followed the grocery store layout and put our bottles of spices and herbs on the rack in alphabetical order. I grouped salts, peppers and seasoning blends together beside the rack. The system has worked beautifully and one year later is still just as organized.
In January of each year I go through the cabinet and check expiration dates, tossing expired spices. Spices don't spoil or become harmful to consume, but they do lose their color and their flavor as they get older. I don't want to spend time on a recipe and have it turn out bland because a seasoning was old.
Another great way to organize and keep a check on expiration dates is to tape a list of spices in your cabinet (preferably in alphabetical order). A quick scan of your list can help you prepare a grocery list and keep your spices fresh and aromatic.
While researching spices and herbs, I found so much great information that I wanted to share with you, but the sweet people at Savannah Morning News just couldn't give me the 10 to 12 pages it would have taken to share it all. So, I decided this was a good time to create a Miss Sophie's Pinterest board. I culled through pages and pinned some great information. There are examples of spice lists, storage advice, shelf-life expectancy and how to use spices. I also posted links to tiered spice shelves similar to the one I have in my cabinet. So, please stop by and check it out.
I also found this great general list from McCormick on basic spices that I love. It not only lists basic spices, it categorizes them into cuisines. This is a great reference for setting up a spice cabinet or for restocking one after you discover all your spices have expired!
I prefer to buy spice blends rather than make them myself, but I love making pretty flavored salts to use and for gifts. I also like to make my own seasoned salt for general purposes. Here are a couple of recipes to kick your creativity into gear. A pretty jar of flavored salt and the basic spice chart would make a wonderful gift for a wedding shower or anyone who is setting up their first kitchen.
Wishing all of you a well-organized and spice filled 2016!
This salt is a perfect match for seafood and chicken.
Citrus of your choice (lime, lemon, orange, etc.)
Using a microplane grater or small side of your regular grater, zest the citrus of your choice. Pour zest into a measuring cup. Add an equal amount of kosher salt. Using your fingers combine the salt and zest rubbing together coat zest with salt. Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and air dry for a couple of days. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.
ROSEMARY LEMON SALT
1 cup kosher, sea or Himalayan salt
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
Zest from one large lemon or 2 small lemons
Heat oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to combine. Pour mixture on a baking sheet. Cook for 2 hours, stirring often. Store in airtight containers.
BASIC SEASONING SALT
This is a great recipe for a basic seasoning salt. I like its measurements because they are easy to scale up or down.
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon thyme
Combine all ingredients and transfer to an airtight container and shake to combine.