You Mean Spice Jars Have Had This Mess-Free Feature All Along?

There's nothing like being in the zone when you're cooking a tasty meal, only to have your rhythm interrupted by something annoying. It's usually the little things that are the most irritating, like having to shake your spice jar a million times to get the seasonings to come out, or worse, when they clump at the bottom of the jar and won't move at all. Sure, it's not the end of the world, but it's aggravating and slows down your flow all the same. Thankfully, there's a super simple and mess-free way to never have to experience this inconvenience ever again, and you might be surprised to learn that it's a feature that's been there all along.

This mind-blowing hack works with most store-bought spice and herb jars that come with a snap-on plastic sifter — that's the round plastic cover with holes that goes over the jar's opening. While you're probably used to shaking the bottle to have its contents sprinkle out one shake at a time, there's a built-in way to get it to come out faster and with much less effort.

All you need to do is aim the jar open end down, hold the sifter in place with one hand, and with your other hand, just twist the jar back and forth. It's the same motion you'd used with salt grinders or old-fashioned pepper mills. The internal motion will cause your herbs or spices to stream out continuously for as long as you keep twisting.

The twist trick works with most seasoning and herb jars

From everyday flavorings like garlic powder, cilantro, dill, or cinnamon, to some of the more uncommon cooking spices like sumac, za'atar, and Ras el Hanout, this jar-twisting trick is sure to shake up your routine. You'll get the best results with powdered spices or finely ground leafy herbs, but as long as the holes in the sifter are big enough to allow the ingredients to pass through, they should flow through freely.

If your jar doesn't come with a removable shifter but instead has holes inside of a flip-top cap, you can still utilize this tip. With the top flap flipped open, just barely unscrew the cap so that it's still attached and can be turned, but not so much that it will fall off. Then all you have to do is turn it over and spin the cap back and forth using that same grinding motion. You'll need to be careful and hold on to the cap tightly to avoid having it fall off and accidentally dump all of your spices out, but if you grip it securely, you'll be amazed by how well this technique works.

Both methods described above can also help to loosen up clumps that might be stuck in the bottle. Whereas the regular manner of shaking spice jars doesn't always have much effect when you've got a ball of bunched-up seasoning, the twisting method works wonders to get things moving again.

Spice jars have a built-in tool for breaking up clumps

If twisting doesn't break up the clumps, and you've still got some stuck together at the bottom of the jar, there's another workaround. This works with glass spice jars, many of which have a secret solution already incorporated in their design. Have you ever noticed the bumps or ridges on the bottom of your bottles? This is exactly what they're meant for. With the cap closed, turn the clumpy bottle upside down. Grab another similar jar, place their bottoms together, and slide those raised ridges against one another. The friction of this process should release most lumped-up seasonings.

While you might think these handy tips are overkill when you could just open the jar and scoop out your spices with a measuring spoon, there are a few things to consider. For one, the openings on some spice jars are not big enough to fit spoon sizes from a teaspoon on up. Secondly, if you attempt to pour spices straight from the jar, you might spill and waste more than intended.

More importantly, unless you diligently use a clean spoon every time, you risk cross-contaminating the jar when you dip into it. That might not sound like such a big deal, but it's actually a surefire way to spread germs that can cause food poisoning — one of a number of reasons you need to clean your spice jars ASAP, especially if you've handled raw meat while using them.