By Karen Fritscher-Porter
Today you have almost as many choices of spice racks as you do of the spices they contain. Spice racks are wonderful kitchen home organization gadgets. And a spice rack is a wonderful gift too for a cook. In our household, my husband is the chef. But I'm the shopper. And we own three functional and handsome spice racks that are in use every day. Before you buy your next spice rack for yourself or as a gift consider these factors:
1) WHERE WILL YOU PUT IT? Naturally, you want your spice rack in the kitchen so it's handy for cooking. The only caution here is that some people advice not putting your spices too close to the stove or oven for fear that the heat will be harmful to some of the spices' potency. So other than that spot, consider all the available spaces in your kitchen. There are probably more available spaces than you think. Here are some styles of spice racks that should give you more ideas about available kitchen space:
--No counter space? Buy spice racks that are "wall mountable". These spice racks usually have single or multiple vertical shelves.
--Hard to reach counter space? Put a "carousel" spice rack in the corner. Think of a carousel spice rack as one that spins on a circular-shaped Lazy Susan. You can make use of that hard-to-reach corner countertop space with such a revolving spice rack.
--Like to view your spices in one glance? By a "slanted" spice rack. Or buy a "three-tier expand-a-shelf" (like a staircase or stadium seating) that fits conveniently inside a kitchen cabinet. You'll triple that cabinet space with this type rack too.
--Got a free drawer? Some stores are now selling a "spice rack drawer liner". It lays flat in your drawer much like the flatware drawer liner that holds your forks and spoons. You lay the spice jars or containers on their sides in slots (lay with labels upward for quick reading).
--Not utilizing the bottom of your kitchen cabinets? Buy an "under-cabinet spice rack", also called "undercounter spice rack" or "pull-down spice rack". Much like electric can-opener gadgets that attach to the underside of kitchen cabinets, so does this under-cabinet spice rack. It swings down for easy viewing and picking. Otherwise, keep it folded upward underneath the cabinet for its space saving attribute.
--Is the inside of your pantry door empty? Use a "door-mounted spice rack". Just a few screws and you can hang a multi-shelf vertical spice rack here. Also, some stores are selling racks that have slots that individually adjust to the jar size. The rack adheres to the inside of the door with double-sided tape.
--Lots of kitchen counter space or open shelf space? Get a "free-standing spice rack". You can buy a countertop spice rack that spins or one planted firmly on a solid base. Some of these come in tapering shapes so that they're narrower at the base but flare out at the top.
2) HOW MANY SPICES DO YOU USE? If you use a lot of different spices, would you like one large single-level or multi-tiered shelf spice rack that holds all of them? Or like me, would you like a few different spice racks clustered in one area of the kitchen? If you only keep a few spice jars, then perhaps a spice rack that holds six to eight spice containers is sufficient (especially if your space is limited to a small area of the kitchen). And if it's a gift for someone else, visualize the available space they have in their kitchen. You don't want to give someone a gorgeous spice rack that they have to stuff in a closet for lack of a place to put it.
3) CAN YOU CONVENIENTLY ACCESS THE SPICES? For instance, if you hang a vertical double-shelf spice rack on a wall underneath a kitchen cabinet, you need enough room between the spice containers on the top shelf and the underside of the kitchen cabinet to be able to easily remove and replace the spice containers. You don't want to keep scraping your knuckles against the wood on the underside of the cabinet. Wherever you plan to put the spice rack, it's probably a good idea to measure the intended space for it and then compare that to the dimensions of the product listed on its sales box before you purchase it.
4) ARE YOU BUYING A SPICE RACK WITH OR WITHOUT SPICES? Some spice racks come complete with full containers of spices and others come without jars or containers of spices. Some spice racks don't even use typical container or jars; instead you fill them and then turn a dial for the measured spice amount to filter through a dispenser, which is removable from the spice rack.
Remember that you're trying to save space when buying home organization gadgets. So if you buy a spice rack complete with new spices, you'll just have to store the new or existing set of spice jars in the pantry until the spice jars in use need a refill.
And if you buy a spice rack with containers, make sure they're what you want. Some are glass jars; others aren't. Some have corks as lids; others have screw tops. Some come with snap on sifters or shaker ports. Also check to see if the jars come pre-labeled or with an extra set of blank labels.
5) WHAT MATERIAL COMPRISES THE SPICE RACK? You can find spice racks or spice shelving in many types of material: wood, acrylic, metal/stainless steel/wire, plastic or chrome. What matches the style of or colors of your kitchen? Or if the spice rack isn't going to be clearly on view, maybe you're just interested in a durable material or one that wipes clean easily.
6) DO YOU LOVE. IT? Spice racks are very durable products. You'll be seeing your spice rack choice in your kitchen for a long time.
Karen Fritscher-Porter writes about home organizing solutions at http://www.EasyHomeOrganizing.com.
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