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8 Practical and Artful Ways to Label Spice Jars

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To be filed under Small Changes that Make a World of Difference: decanting your spices into uniform jars and labeling them. We’ve written about the decanting part of the process before (see The Organized Spice Drawer: 8 Rules for Decanting Kitchen Spices), and it’s something I’ve been meaning to tackle in my own rental kitchen, where a variety of mass-market plastic bottles are jammed awkwardly in a drawer. But without a plan for labeling, and with dozens of spices in identical containers, I fear I’d lose track of which spice is which, or mix up the garlic powder with the ground ginger. No more excuses: Here are 7 ideas for artful–and practical—spice jar labeling:

1. Bright Washi Tape

Herb and Spice Drawer Kit Photo Matthew Williams Styling Alexa Hotz
Above: Our personal favorite approach—glass jars (bought inexpensively from the art supply store) labeled with cheerful washi tape. Bonus: no label-maker or printer needed. Simply remove the tape and replace when you’re ready to refill your jars with a new batch of spices. Photograph by Matthew Williams and styling by Alexa Hotz for Remodelista: The Organized Home.
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Above: Heidi Swanson’s spices also get the washi tape treatment. See Secrets from the Swanson Kitchen, SF Edition for more of her tips. Photograph by Heidi Swanson.

2. Wipe-Off Labels

Chalkboard Labels from Charlie Chalk Designs on Etsy
Above: If you’re a constant spice re-arranger, opt for labels that are easily wiped off, rather than the permanence of typed, stick-on labels. We like these small chalkboard labels, available from Portland, OR-based Charlie Chalk Designs via Etsy ($4.95 for a set of 50).

3. Paper Labels

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Above: Pantry expert Wiebke Liu of Blisshaus opts for opaque paper labels on her Spice Kits. Create something similar with sticky labels and a printer (and choose a large, easy-to-read print, as shown here). See Blisshaus: Bringing Back the Old World Pantry, One Kitchen at a Time for more.

 4. Bespoke Labels

Custom Spice and Pantry Labels from Paper and Pear via Etsy
Above: Custom stick-on labels, like these spice and pantry labels from Paper and Pear Store in Minnesota, available via Etsy, add polish to spice jars and can include additional information like expiration dates and source. (Plus, they’re pretty enough to give as gifts.)

5. See-Through Stickers

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Above: For maximum transparency: Decant spices into glass-topped watchmaker’s tins with transparent typed labels (or clear tape labeled with thin permanent marker). See Small-Space Solutions: 17 Affordable Tips from a NYC Creative Couple for more. Photograph by Kate Sears.

6. Vintage-Style Labels

Labeled Jars in Kara Rosenlund's Queensland Cottage Kitchen
Above: A retro and graphic idea—vintage-style embossed labels. This method was used for dried goods stored in flip-top jars, as seen in Kitchen of the Week: A Blank-Slate Queensland Cottage Kitchen for a Stylist, but can easily be translated for canisters of spices.

7. Permanent Marker on Glass

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Above: In what we think might be The Ultimate Staff Kitchen in NYC, spices are stored in a shallow drawer in glass-topped jars fitted with simple, typed labels. Too much work? Write directly on the glass with permanent marker, as seen on the jar on the upper right. Photograph by Mark Weinberg.

8. Wrapped-Paper Labels

Plain English Spice Drawer in Osea Kitchen
Above: Or, make like UK-based kitchen company Plain English in this custom spice drawer and wrap small glass bottles in a circlet of brown paper to serve as a label. Photograph courtesy of Plain English.

Taking on the whole cupboard? Consult The Organized Pantry: 8 Rules for Decanting Dried Goods.

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