Flush out your spice cabinet and restock it with things you use

Photo credit: GimmeSomeOven

Between listening to the Milk Street Radio podcast this morning and spending the last few Sundays cooking at my parents, I think it’s time that we had a talk about spices.

My folks have a standalone cabinet, as well as a rack-on-door with upwards of 70 jars. Almost every jar on the door is empty, and there is no organization to the cabinet. Duplicates run rampant, things they never use, spices that have turned into a state of matter that I’m not sure exists elsewhere in the universe. Do they, or by extension, you, really need 5 jars of garlic powder in different grind levels.. but no fine kosher or table salt?

With food and cooking as popular as it has become, we rush out and buy things like $12 containers of star anise when we really only need a single pod. “If it’s good, I’ll make it again!” But you don’t, and that jar just goes to waste.

I’ve got a full cabinet of spices, blends, rubs and dipping mixes and I use them all. Maybe not every week, but there isn’t a single container in there that I don’t know about or can’t use in at least a dozen recipes. If you’re buying “cheap” ground spices, it doesn’t hurt to replace that container of dollar store paprika a few months on.. unless you haven’t drawn more than a tablespoon out of it, in which case.. just toss it.


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