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What is a Spice Rack?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A spice rack is a piece of kitchen equipment which is designed to hold spices in uniformly sized containers such as metal canisters or glass jars. There are many configurations for spice racks, from small wall-mounted versions to large rotating spice racks designed to be kept in a kitchen with ample counter space. In addition, spice racks are made from a wide variety of materials and finishes so that they will coordinate with kitchens of different styles. In all cases, the goal is to keep spices organized and accessible for the cook.

Many cookbooks assert that cooks should maintain a staple library of kitchen spices. Common kitchen spices include dried herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, and parsley. Many cooks also keep spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, dried ginger, and allspice around, along with red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt crystals. Cooks who cook a lot of Indian and Mediterranean cuisine might have cumin, coriander, turmeric, asafoetida, and seeds such as fennel or sesame seeds. In addition to plain spices, cooks often keep spice blends such as Chinese five spice, Italian herb mix, or garam masala.

Spices, including cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and anise.
Spices, including cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and anise.

Keeping all of these spices organized can be difficult. Spices taste the best when they are fresh, so consumers are encouraged to purchase small containers of spices to ensure that the spice gets used before it goes bad. However, these containers can easily get lost in the back of kitchen cabinets, or clutter up a counter. Hence, many cooks use a spice rack.

Ground cumin.
Ground cumin.

The most basic spice rack is literally a small rack, a shelf with a bar on it to keep the spices from being dislodged. A small spice rack is often designed to mount on the wall in a convenient place in the kitchen. Larger spice racks and spice cabinets take up more space, and are sometimes built into a new kitchen. Some cooks find it more convenient to use a revolving spice rack, which resembles a cube with slots for spices on all sides.

Nutmeg seeds.
Nutmeg seeds.

Plastic, wood, and metal are all used to make spice racks. They can be found in an assortment of colors to coordinate with a kitchen, as well as in more natural finishes. Often, a spice rack can be found for sale as part of a kitchen set, so that the spice rack will mesh harmoniously with salt and pepper grinders, large tins for coffee, tea, salt, and flour, and other kitchen accessories.

Coriander seeds.
Coriander seeds.

Organizing spices in a spice rack is usually a personal task, although some companies pre-print labels to assist cooks. The spices should be organized in a way which makes sense to the person most likely to use them. Some cooks like to organize spices by type, keeping, for example, all of the Italian spices in one section of the rack. Others keep all of their spices in alphabetical order, so that they can expect to find sage after rosemary but before thyme.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Spices, including cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and anise.
      Spices, including cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and anise.
    • Ground cumin.
      By: marylooo
      Ground cumin.
    • Nutmeg seeds.
      By: Unclesam
      Nutmeg seeds.
    • Coriander seeds.
      By: areif
      Coriander seeds.
    • Crushed red pepper is often part of a spice rack.
      By: Brent Hofacker
      Crushed red pepper is often part of a spice rack.
    • A spice rack may include thyme.
      By: margo555
      A spice rack may include thyme.
    • Asafoetida is often part of a spice rack for a cook for makes Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.
      By: CRAIG MCATEER
      Asafoetida is often part of a spice rack for a cook for makes Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.
    • Keeping several types of spices organized can be difficult, even for experienced cooks.
      By: Kuzmick
      Keeping several types of spices organized can be difficult, even for experienced cooks.