Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where Do You Store Your Masalas?

I have been eyeballing this pricy Tablefare SpiceCare Interlocking spice storage system for a while, but haven't found any in depth unaffiliated reviews of the product. I asked about it on my favorite foodie website, Chowhound, but no one responded to my query. It looks great, though. I am afraid it will cause fumbling and I will have to unlock a lot of stuff all at once to get out a few spices. The SpiceCare thingy was recommended by Chef Bosco Pereira on twitter (@Chef_Bosco), so that's how I found out about it, and I trust what Chef Bosco says a lot. (His tweet soliloquies on South and South East Asian food are awesome. His food-knowledge is as vast as the Seven Seas!) But I'd still like to read some feedback on the product before investing in it.

In my daily cooking, I usually cook the typical dishes of my husband's particular community. For those dishes, I keep the fast moving standard every-dish spices in a masala dabba.  Spices I use less frequently are in clear plastic jars with lids (the little jars are about 16 oz in size, I'd say). They are just all stuffed in the cupboard. There are some I keep at the front of the cupboard, but I step up on a step-stool to dig around for others. I have a friend who keeps all of her spices in a clear plastic jars but keeps the jars in clear plastic stackable storage drawers so the spices are easy to see and take out. Awesome idea! But never got around to doing that. I should really do that, I suppose.
The spices I purchase usually come in large plastic baggies. Here is what I do with the plastic spice baggies: If it is a fast moving spice for me like red chile powder or cumin, I pour some in a plastic jar, some in the masala dabba cup, and then use the tiny bit left over in the baggie first. If it is a very slow moving spice, I pour it into the plastic container, and I toss out the few tablespoons which are left over at the bottom because I know it will go stale before I use it all. It is a waste, I know, but I buy the spices cheaply at the Indian market, so no worries. Before I started tossing them out, I kept the left over amount in its baggie closed with a rubber band, but it would just sit in my cupboard for ages and I would end up throwing it away anyway. For Shan masalas, I mostly use only a couple of teaspoons at a time, so I keep them in the boxes in which they come. For rice and chapati ata, I have them in giant clear plastic locking storage boxes, and for daals, I have them in one drawer in medium sized lockable clear plastic bins.
What about you? If you are a spicy home cook, how do you store your masalas? Any recommendations?


Adventurous Ammena said...

you had so many comments on the other blog I wanted to post here ;) I love the look of this set!! As you know we havent been married long and hubby generally cooks our curries so most of the packets he uses are high up out of my reach. As for the ones we use more often and that I use (chilli powder, tumeric, cayenne) we keep on the lower shelf in the glass containers I bought them in (except the chilli in a big plastic bag)
Ive wanted so long to buy all matching glass containers and have them labelled on one of those twirling spice racks, but we currently just dont have the room for it either.

luckyfatima said...

That's great that your husband cooks! Do you intend to learn more desi cooking?

Adventurous Ammena said...

insha'Allah I do... but he makes it so nice ;) I was hoping to pick up a few things from ami while Im here but she seems to appear with food before I realise we are eating ;)

Saffron said...

Oooh, I like the look of those spice containers, but they'd be impractical and a complete waste of space for me (shoe-box-sized kitchen).

I make a lot of mixes myself and buy the herbs and spices in bulk zip-loc packets which I "file" in two large plastic containers: spices and herbs. My home-made mixes are in little jars in a drawer and a shelf. I have a drawer full of less-often-used spices bought in standard-size bottles, and the rest of the main bulk spices are in their original boxes, tins and bottles in a plastic bag on the kitchen floor. I also have back-up supplies of unopened herbs and spices I can't get in Japan stashed in the bedroom. Oh, and the saffron's in the fridge.(Did I mention I use a lot of herbs and spices??!)

It's complete (organised) chaos, and if I was really smart, I'd get more of the commercial zip-loc bags and store everything that way. They store flat and get thinner as you use the spices up. And double sealing them keeps them fresher longer.