Throw Away the Sifter Tops from Your Spice Jars and Be Free

Those plastic shaker tops are useless garbage that are keeping you from getting the most out of your spices.

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There is an enemy lurking in your spice cabinet. Not the cream of tartar, leave her out of this. Not even the mysterious spice blend that has been there forever and is now probably mostly dust but you can’t throw it out because your uncle made it and it's the only thing he uses when he visits. No, this enemy is far more insidious, and, I regret to say, omnipresent. It is irritating. It is legion. It is the terrible plastic doohickey that they put on the top of your bottle of spices.

The technical term for these unbelievably irritating contraptions is the “sifter cap.” It’s the little round piece of plastic with holes in it that allegedly allows you to shake a small amount of spices into your dish without dumping an enormous amount of cumin or cayenne or turmeric into the pot.

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You would think that would be useful. But as anyone who has ever used spices with these nefarious prophylactics on them knows, what they in fact do is inhibit the movement of the precious spices to such a degree that you can never get the right amount. The senseless little sifter holes clog up, or the whole cap falls off at the wrong moment and you end up with a terrifying amount of oregano in your pasta sauce. I hate them with my entire life.

The good news is that this scourge is removable. In many cases, you can simply pry the sifter disc off and throw it in the trash where it belongs. If you feel bad about wasting it, I don’t know, use it as a drain in a dollhouse or collect them and make a confusing Halloween costume that will terrify only me. But you should absolutely get rid of them.

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Why? Because spices are meant to be used, dang it. They are dried fruits and herbs and barks, and you should put them in everything you eat. The plastic sieve caps do double damage by making spices less accessible and discouraging you from using them as much as possible. They aren’t getting any more useful or more flavorful just sitting in the pantry under their tiny horrid sieve caps. Free them! Experiment with them!

Taking the sifters off your spices is the same principle as putting your salt into a cellar or bowl; you can visualize much more easily how much you need to season something. You can more easily eyeball quantities in your cooking. Plus when you want to measure them you can actually fit a spoon in the spice bottle.

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And there’s another way! If you don’t want to just dump spices into things willy-nilly, you can invest in an inexpensive and pleasing set of spice spoons, like these from Diaspora Co. (I use them with my masala dabba, a much more functional way of storing spices than imprisoning them with a sifter.) Do yourself a favor and go into your cabinet and throw all those little plastic suckers. Release the spice! You’ll thank me. I promise.