Storage Tips

A Peek Inside Heidi Swanson's Spice Drawer

June 30, 2016

Heidi Swanson's book Near and Far takes readers on a culinary tour of some of the countries she's visited (and on a culinary stay-cation in her foggy-filtered, Northern California home).

How does she keep tabs on all the spices she's picked up in her travels?

She claims that she's still trying to get a grip on her spices, but this photograph makes us wonder if there's a whole second spice drawer (one in complete disarray, with seeds spilling everywhere) that we're not seeing. Look how neat this is!

Still trying to keep a handle on the spice drawer 😹

A photo posted by @heidijswanson on

What we'll steal from Heidi's system:

  • She uses bright snags of washi tape—it's colorful and happy-making, with no label-maker or washable marker necessary.
  • Not only are her spices in alphabetical order, but the adjective often comes after the noun (sesame seeds white, coriander ground) to make that sequencing even more logical.

And, because we're all curious, here's what she's got in there:

  • Star anise
  • Sansho
  • Ras el hanout
  • White sesame seeds
  • Saffron
  • Poppy seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Nigella seeds
  • Black mustard seeds
  • A spice mix of cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, cloves, and nutmeg
  • Dried lemongrass
  • Preserved lemon (?) from Oman
  • Fenugreek
  • Dill seeds
  • Organic cumin seeds
  • Organic roasted cumin seeds
  • Ground coriander
  • Whole cloves
  • Cayenne
  • Organic cardamom
  • Whole caraway
  • Basil seeds
  • Organic whole anise
  • Anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)

Feeling inspired to get your own spices in line?

If you had to narrow down your pantry to three spices, what would they be? Tell us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Dianecpa
  • Elena
  • creamtea
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Dianecpa September 7, 2019
Paprika, fennel and cumin.
Elena July 17, 2016
Sumac, hing and cumin seeds. Shameless insert> I design and sell pantry labels!
creamtea July 1, 2016
limu Omani= dried limes (for Persian cooking).