Organizing everyday seasonings

June 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

Experts say that cooks shouldn’t store seasonings next to the stove, advising that the high levels of heat will quickly degrade the spices.  We’ve always ignored this rule.  When we tried storing seasonings in the pantry, where they evidently belong, we found outselves returning again and again for the same bottles and jars.  It was a hassle, so we store the most-used items in small stainless steel trays next to the stove.  These are seasonings we use so frequently, they don’t have time to be degraded from the heat.  Here are our most-used go-to items:

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Herbs de Provence

Peppercorns (in a grinder)

Red pepper flakes

Sea salt with dried garlic (in a grinder)

Sea salt (plain)

Canola oil spritzer (for greasing pans)

The small container with the white lid contains dried lavender from our herb garden.  It’s actually not an everyday item, and was just sitting around to be included in some homemade Herbs de Provence that we made this past weekend.  Notably missing is fresh garlic.  Although we also cook with an enormous amount of fresh garlic, we never keep this next to the stove.  Fresh garlic stays in a basket on the other side of the kitchen, along with other fresh fruits and vegetables that we use frequently.  We also keep a jar of fresh minced garlic in the refrigerator (if you have tried this, it is an enormous timesaver).

Even though we have two kinds of sea salt next to the stove, we actually don’t cook with a lot of salt.  It’s not something that we use automatically.  I (Libby) am very sensitive to salt, while Dave adores it.  When Dave’s at the stove, he tends to use salt, while I prefer to add it after the food has been cooked.  Unless it is essential to the cooking of the food (as in dishes that use dried beans, in which salt plays an important role in tenderizing the beans), I just leave it out and we can add it in later via the salt shaker at the table.

Once a week, I wash the trays, and Dave fills up the olive oil and red pepper flake containers.  He is so in love with red pepper flakes that I buy different kinds for him for his birthday and special holidays.  His most recent acquisition was a container of Szechuan red pepper flakes, which are outstandingly delicious.  The trays, by the way, are just stainless breading trays from William Sonoma.  They come in a container of three, and when we want to use the trays for breading, we just wash them out and then replace them with the spices when we’re done cooking.  An alternative to this is to just use a small white tray (which we used until recently), a basket, or a small shelf…whatever works for your particular kitchen.

We’re interested to hear about your everyday seasonings…what stays out all the time?  Are there any seasonings that you can’t live without?  Do you have favorite seasonings that make their way into almost every meal you prepare?


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