Cinnamon is a spice with a long and rich history. It is one of the best and most used spices for several reasons. However, nothing can beat the sweet and rich aroma of cinnamon. It is a useful addition to many dishes that need a boost in terms of scent.
The spice is not just a great addition to many dishes; it is an anti-inflammatory, helps to lower blood sugar levels, and even helps fight heart diseases.
That’s not all; cinnamon packs a punch in terms of antioxidants, very much like a walnut. If you combine all that with the sweet fragrance and taste, you get a world-class spice that is beyond special.
Cinnamon is known for being a concentrated spice that seeps its flavour and scent into every meal. The best part is that it is a strong spice when fresh. After all, you only need to use small amounts of it at any given time.
Often, we lock it in our pantries, cabinets, or other storage areas in the house and use it for a long time.
That’s where one has to wonder? Does cinnamon go bad? How long does that take?
Well, let’s find out all the details associated with this topic.
As always, we will talk about how to store cinnamon so it does not go bad and how to know when it has gone bad.
Also Read our Food Substitute Articles that include Cinnamon as an alternative: Substitutes for Fresh Ginger & What Can I Use Instead?, Substitutes for Cardamom & What Can I Use Instead?
What Is the Proper Way to Store Cinnamon?
Cinnamon can be either ground or in stick form. Whether you ground it or have it as sticks, the way you store it will determine how long it can stay fresh. So, let’s say you buy some cinnamon sticks, and after experimenting with them, you find that they do not release most of their great flavour.
It turns out that you are getting more flavour after grinding them, but you still have several sticks left over. Maybe you ground up all of them.
Whatever you did, you have to store the remaining sticks or ground cinnamon.
First of all, you should follow the cardinal rule of storing ground spices, which says ‘keep in a dark and cool place away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
If you got the spice in a package that you have not yet opened, the best place to keep this is in the pantry. After you open it, you will want to keep it near so you can use it, and the pantry is a great choice, given that the spice can keep for a long time without losing its flavour.
Even with all the precautions and the cardinal rules, you should make sure that you are keeping it in a sealed container when you are not using the spice.
The reason for this is to make sure that moisture does not get into the package/container. When this happens, the cinnamon will start to deteriorate in terms of quality, scent, and even grow mould after a while.
Pro Tip: if your cinnamon did not come in a jar or container, consider emptying it from its original packaging into a dry container that you can close and open. Make sure that it is airtight if you want the spice to keep for years.
These guidelines of storage are not just reserved for ground cinnamon but cinnamon sticks as well. Cinnamon sticks are often packaged in plastic bags. Once you tear it open, there is no way to reseal it.
For that reason, you should transfer the sticks into a jar after opening the package to make sure that the sticks are not exposed to the air. That way, they can retain their freshness for longer.
How Long Can Cinnamon Stay in Storage?
All packaged cinnamon will come with a date from the company that packaged it. They will print a best-by or best-before date on the label to show how long the product should stay fresh.
However, since ground cinnamon is a powdered spice, it is possible to keep it for years after the dates indicated. But, like any spice, cinnamon will lose flavour over time. That is why you should buy only an amount of cinnamon that you know you won’t have to keep for too long.
Finishing the spice while it is still fresh is a great way to ensure that you get the most out of it.
With the storage methods we have discussed, you can get the cinnamon to stay fresh for much longer than a year. It is advisable to buy an amount of cinnamon you know you can finish within a year.
When cinnamon sticks are ground, they lose flavour faster because the surface area exposed to the air is much greater. This means that the spice loses flavour the same way things like nutmeg do. The sticks themselves can keep their flavour and fragrance for 3 to 4 years.
To get it while it is still flavourful and in its best quality, here’s what to keep in mind.
- Ground cinnamon (whether opened or unopened) can stay for a year or longer.
- Cinnamon in sticks form (opened or unopened) can stay for 3 to 4 years.
Ground cinnamon can keep for more than a year or longer. But, the more you keep it, the more it loses flavour.
Signs that Cinnamon Has Gone Bad
Like many spices that come in powder form, if you can keep water or moisture out of the containers, you can keep your cinnamon for much longer. Water usually leads to mould, growths, clumps, or wet spots. If you notice any of these things, throw out the spices because you have no way of knowing what any of the growths may be.
Usually, it is mould, and as you very well know, it is not safe to eat anything that has mould in it.
These signs we have mentioned are only for knowing when the water had gotten into your container. The other problem you will have to deal with is one of the flavours.
Pro Tip: When you want to know if the cinnamon has any flavour left, rub a pinch of it between your finger and then taste or smell it. When it is fresh, the aroma is sweet and rich while the taste leaves the same powerful fragrance in your mouth.
The same rules of storage that we use for ground cinnamon apply to sticks of cinnamon as well. When it comes to checking if the sticks still pack the same punch, grate them a bit and watch out for that rich, unmistakably cinnamon scent.
Can I Freeze My Cinnamon?
Yes, but you probably should not do that. It will preserve the shelf life, but condensation will cause some damage. It might seem like a good idea, but it isn’t.
Which Containers Are the Best for Storing Cinnamon?
Tin is quaint but susceptible to rust. The best option is to use plastic containers or glass jars, as long as they have airtight lids.
Can I Revive Old Spices?
If, by reviving, you mean bringing back the fragrance that may have been lost after a long time in storage, then the answer is yes, you can. Heat the spice after crushing it. The fading flavour will be revived a bit. You can use more spice than is indicated to get the flavour levels you want.