I'm a huge fan of antiques, so you can imagine how I almost fainted when I came across this vintage retired postal unit. I knew right away that I wanted to turn it into a spice cabinet. I've been waiting for my sons to get older to complete this project because they kept taking the keys out. Fingers crossed...
If you do a lot of cooking and or baking, it's important to keep a well stocked spice collection so you don't have to run to the store every time you need a new spice. Spices are best when used within the first 6 months of purchase. This ensures that you will get the most flavor out of the spice. Although it won't hurt you to use a spice that has been sitting in your cabinet for years, you won't be getting the intense flavor that can be achieved with fresh spices. When buying spices, don't buy them in bulk or in big packages unless you cook a lot with that spice. Most of the time, you only need a small amount of each spice, so in this case, the smaller the quantity the better. Dump out your old spices after six months and restock them for maximum freshness. I didn't add certain dried herbs like dill, thyme, basil, parsley & cilantro. I always use fresh when I can.
Although it might be hard to find one of these antique postal unit's, I've seen plenty similar vintage pieces with separate storage units. I've also seen PO boxes sold individually. You could purchase them separately and store 5 or 10 of your favorite spices.
What you need:
Vintage Postal Unit or similar cabinet
List of favorite spices
Make a list of the spices you use the most or that you have in your current spice collection. I went through an herb and spice book to get the names of spices I have used before, but couldn't think of off hand. Print out the names of the spices on your label maker and place them in alphabetical order.
Remove the backing from the labels and place them onto the spice cabinet in alphabetical order. I had a couple rows left over that I'm going to use for artisan salts and peppercorns.
Fill your jars with spices and place them into the labeled po boxes.
Here's a list of my spices:
Cream of Tartar
Grains of Paradise
Ras El Hanout