I just bought 48 new spice jars to replace some that were broken and to finally get some of my bagged herbs and spices into jars. When I mentioned this to one of my friends, her incredulous response was, "Wait, how many spices do you have?!?" I then explained that I have over a hundred spices but under two-hundred, but I cannot recall exactly how many (I think it is around 120 last time I counted). After we cleared up the conversation on how I keep them fresh (I rotate my stock by use, date the jars, and keep small amounts on hand), we got into a conversation about organization.
My friend insisted I should organize my spices alphabetically and was in shock with how I organize them. My personal organization scheme is to separate the spices by flavor and aroma profile. General categories are sweet, savory, salty, pungent, hot, and a few more. I organize my spices so I can mix them together like different hues of paint on a palette. I find this to be very useful and gives me more flexibility. Furthermore, I often have a flavor goal in mind and mix my herbs and spices together to reach that goal. And, I admit, I reshuffle a bit during use based on how old spices are (thus flavor changes) and what my mood is. But, I find this method to work really well.
As a result of this conversation, I was curious as to how others organize their spices. So what do you do? How do you keep them organized (or disorganized)? And, for the heck of it, how many spices do you use regularly? And how many spices do you have on hand at any one time?