Keep your kitchen better organized by clearly labeling spice and herb jars. Label every jar (not the caps) and make the labels large enough so they are easily readable.
We recently reorganized to keep “home use” supplies from “business” supplies. What business? Alex’s business. She went to culinary school and then established her own business. If you’re a long-time reader, you’d probably remember that the first domain I used was houseonahill.net. Well, that domain and brand is now dedicated to Alex’s business.
Also in relation with House On A Hill, we’re building a new kitchen wing. Construction begins in a week. When the new kitchen is done, organizing will be simpler because all House On A Hill supplies will be physically moved into the new kitchen. The business will have its own storage space, appliances, work area and so on, and so forth.
Meanwhile, we’re sharing space in one kitchen. And that means we have to organize things better.
The herbs and spices that you see in these photos are a tiny fraction of what go into House On A Hill‘s herb salt mixes. Close to forty different herbs and spices are used in House On A Hill products, so when I say “tiny fraction”, take it literally. The supplies are labeled “NOT for home use!” to make inventory, accounting and bookkeeping easier.
But even if you don’t have to keep two sets of everything in your kitchen, it’s still a smart idea to keep everything labeled and organized. Trust me, unless only one person cooks, there will always be some confusion about where this or that is stored. When we were still living in the city when the girls were very young and I was the only one who did the cooking in the house, I remember Speedy complaining that only I knew where everything was. When he needed salt or pepper, he had to ask me every time.
So, what are the best practices for labeling jars of herbs and spices?
Don’t think that just because you know what chili powder looks like, you can skip labeling it. That might be okay if you use only one kind of chili powder. But if you keep supplies of South Asian chili powder, cayenne, sweet paprika and smoked paprika, it can get confusing because they are all red! Do you really want to open all jars every time you need one red-colored spice and smell the contents of each jar to determine which is which?
Label the jars, not the caps
I’ve seen so many spice and herb jar labeling ideas on Pinterest and some are really gorgeous. Some DIY bloggers even offer free printables that you can use. The problem is that most of them are meant for the jar caps. So pretty yet so useless. Might work if your herb and spice jars are meant as a showcase. But if you’re a real cook, it’s not very smart.
Why? What’s wrong with labeling the jar caps? Nothing. IF you label the jars too. But if you only intend to use one label per jar, stick it on the jar and not the cap. Why?
If you actually cook, you know that there will be times when you will have three or four or more different spice and herb jars open on the counter top. Unless you’re the type of cook who’s as cool as a cucumber like Ina Garten, things can get confusing especially when you’re in a rush. So which is cayenne again and which is paprika? Is it really the best time to be sniffing the contents of the jar one by one?
Worse, when you’re putting away everything, you’ll be the scrambling to identify which cap goes with what jar.
Why not do away with the confusion? If you’re using uniformly-sized jars, a cap is a cap is a cap.
So, again, label the jars and not the caps.
Make the labels easy to read
A jar label is useless if you have to squint (or get your reading glasses) to read the text. The text has to be large so that it is easily readable. In our case, I included the House On A Hill logo in the labels to make the business supplies even easier to identify. Even if you don’t see the “NOT for home use!” part, you’ll know anyway because the logo is there. The name of the spice / herb is in screaming red so it’s hard to make a mistake.
The bottom line: Useful is the standard. “Pretty” is just an accessory.
I’m not anti-Pinterest but, oftentimes, the photos there represent such unrealistic ideas. Obviously STAGED to make a visual impact rather than offer real value, too many are are so pretty but, sadly, pretty useless too.
For example. Labels with white cursive text on black background. Spidery cursive text at that! Really? Are those labels really for kitchen organizing or for a photo shoot?
Personally, I like pretty but I hate useless more than I like pretty.
You don’t need special equipment to make effective jar labels. If aesthetics don’t count, a strip of masking tape with the name of the product written on it using a waterproof marker will do.
If, however, you want something that’s more pleasing to the eye, try sticker paper cut out using a craft puncher. You can design the label on your computer and print it out. To make the label waterproof, allow the ink to dry for several hours then paint over with crafters glue like Mod Podge (read more about Mod Podge). You can wash your jars before refilling without worrying that the label will come off.