In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to use and store cinnamon sticks. Plus I’m including 5 cinnamon recipes to try this fall which are located at the bottom of this post!
Cinnamon is such a unique spice. It brings sweetness, spice, and irreplaceable flavor to any dish. You can enjoy it in a simple cinnamon tea, from-scratch baking, and even in soups or curries.
And I love buying my cinnamon in bulk, that way I know I’m set for a long time. But cinnamon does go bad.
And because of this, I want to share in detail not only how to use cinnamon sticks, but also how to store them! This way, you’ll be able to get all the flavor and nutrition out of your cinnamon without it going bad.
Where does cinnamon come from?
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, a bushy evergreen tree native to eastern and southern Asia. The cinnamon bark is harvested and dried. As you know, it is then sold in stick form or ground into powder.
There are four types of cinnamon (and this is very important to know!)
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). This is the only non-cassia variety of cinnamon. Many consider it true cinnamon. It is my top choice because it does not carry the risk of coumarin toxicity like cassia cinnamon. More on that later…
- Korintje cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii). This cassia variety is the most common variety of cinnamon consumed in the US. You can buy it in sticks or powder. It is also common in cinnamon-flavored products.
- Saigon cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). This variety of cassia cinnamon is also common in the US. It is sweet and not very spicy.
- Royal cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi). Lastly, this cassia cinnamon has a very strong flavor. It is both sweet and spicy. Sadly, it is not very popular or widely available.
How to use cinnamon sticks
Cinnamon is one of the most common spices in the world. So, as you can imagine, there are countless ways to use it! Here are some of the most popular:
You can “infuse” the flavor of cinnamon into all sorts of recipes by allowing it to simmer in the cooking liquid. Be sure to remove the sticks before serving.
You may be familiar with simmering cinnamon sticks in water as a stand-alone soothing drink. But it also can be used to add flavor to broths, stews, curries, rice, and casseroles.
Can you grind cinnamon sticks into powder?
Yes! You can easily grind cinnamon sticks into powder by breaking the sticks into small pieces and grinding them up in a coffee grinder or spice blender. Mortel and pestle would also work (and would feel much fancier)!
Grinding cinnamon sticks into powder is a great idea because whole spices typically have a stronger flavor than pre-ground spices. Cinnamon is no exception.
So, once you’ve ground up your cinnamon sticks, you can cook with the ground cinnamon in countless ways.
One of our family’s favorite ways to eat ground cinnamon is in our morning oatmeal with fresh fruit and our homemade maple syrup. Or I’ll add it to my baked banana bread!
Health benefits of cinnamon
The health benefits of cinnamon are widely celebrated in traditional and modern medical practices alike.
First off, cinnamon can boost our immune system through its antioxidant, anti-microbial, and antiparasitic activities. It can also soothe a sore throat.
Secondly, cinnamon may benefit many of our organs. It can protect our hearts by promoting healthy cholesterol levels. It can protect our brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. And it can even protect our liver, help with digestive issues, and promote healthy bones.
Lastly, cinnamon may improve overall wellness by stabilizing blood sugar and blood pressure, lessening inflammation, and helping our bodies maintain a healthy weight.
What else can you do with cinnamon sticks?
There are so many other things you can do with cinnamon sticks that don’t involve consuming it. Like these for example:
- crafting (macrame cinnamon stick ornaments are my fav to make)
- cinnamon stick potpourri for the cozy season
- boiling cinnamon sticks with oranges to give your home a refreshing smell
- cinnamon stick diffuser for your vehicle
- using cinnamon sticks for home decor
- scenting homemade candles with cinnamon
WARNING about cassia cinnamon!
As mentioned before, all varieties of cassia cinnamon (any generic cinnamon not specifically labeled Ceylon) carry the risk of too much coumarin. Consuming too much coumarin is suspected to contribute to liver damage, cancer, and other things that nobody wants.
So, how much is too much? The general recommendation is that the average adult should consume a maximum of 1 tsp per day of cassia cinnamon (and much less for children).
The great news is that Ceylon cinnamon does NOT carry this risk! As I mentioned, it only has trace amounts of coumarin. For this reason, I would suggest trying to use Ceylon whenever possible.
How to store cinnamon sticks
The best way to store whole cinnamon sticks is in an airtight container. Then, place the container in a dry, cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. When stored properly, cinnamon sticks last a very long time at room temperature. Typically they last 4 years unopened, and 2 years once opened.
Now, let’s talk a bit more specifically about each element.
It is important to store whole cinnamon sticks in an airtight container. This prevents them from losing their flavor and smell or drying out.
In all my reading on cinnamon sticks, I found that they rarely go bad. However, non-ideal conditions can cause the cinnamon to lose its flavor prematurely. Which pretty much defeats the purpose of cinnamon, right?
While there are many types of air-tight containers, my favorite storage solution is a glass jar with a sealed top. Just be sure it’s tall enough to fit the whole sticks. However, a plastic container or even a sealable plastic bag would work, too.
Storing cinnamon sticks in a dry place is important because moisture can promote bacteria growth or mold growth.
The biggest moisture-producer in your kitchen is your stovetop. So, choose a spice cabinet that is far from your cooking surface.
Cinnamon is like Goldilocks… it likes to be not too hot, and not too cold. (Can you tell I have young kids?) Again, the spice cupboard or pantry is a great choice.
Though cinnamon likes a cool place, do not refrigerate or freeze cinnamon. Cold temperatures will actually cause it to lose its potency. Besides, cinnamon lasts plenty long at room temperature!
Lastly, be sure to store your cinnamon sticks in a dark place, away from direct sunlight. Light can also dry out the cinnamon and cause it to lose its best qualities… its smell and taste!
What to do with bulk cinnamon sticks?
If you end up with more cinnamon sticks on hand than you’ll use quickly, use this tip to ensure they stay fresh.
First, use one small container to store a few sticks. Then, keep the rest of your cinnamon sticks in a larger container. Only open the large container periodically to refill the smaller container.
It’s a good idea to keep a smaller amount in a jar for frequent use. This way, your entire batch isn’t exposed to the elements every time you need a cinnamon stick.
How long do cinnamon sticks last?
The shelf life of cinnamon is very long. In general, unopened cinnamon sticks (stored properly) last about four years, and about two years once opened.
As you can see, cinnamon has a very long shelf life. This is why it is so valuable to know how to store it properly!
If you’re buying cinnamon from the grocery store, it is a good idea to check the expiration date. While cinnamon lasts a long time, the shelves may be stocked with old cinnamon sticks. Fresh cinnamon would certainly be better.
What about cinnamon powder?
Cinnamon powder also lasts a very long time, though it loses its flavor more quickly than cinnamon sticks. Generally, ground cinnamon lasts about two years unopened, and one year once opened.
Cinnamon sticks are considered the best quality of cinnamon because of their flavor and longevity. But still, cinnamon powder is common and convenient.
Just like cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon typically doesn’t spoil. It simply loses its flavor. However, we’ll discuss the (rare, but possible) ways in which cinnamon can go bad.
Do cinnamon sticks go bad?
When stored properly, cinnamon sticks typically don’t go rancid. However, over time cinnamon sticks can lose their potency. You’ll notice both their smell and taste becoming bland. A brittle texture is another sign that your cinnamon sticks are getting old.
In rare instances, cinnamon sticks could become soiled with bugs or mold.
Clear signs your cinnamon sticks are bad
If you suspect your cinnamon sticks might be bad, here are a few tests for you.
- First, look at your cinnamon sticks. Have they lost their color? Are there bugs or mold?
- Secondly, feel your cinnamon sticks. Are they crumbly, wet, or slimy?
- Next, smell the cinnamon. Does it smell sweet and spicy, or does it have a bland or bad smell?
Lastly, IF… and only IF you answered NO to all the above questions, go ahead and taste your cinnamon. You only need a small amount. Take a tiny bit of ground cinnamon, or simply rub a bit of cinnamon stick between your fingers and taste the residue.
- Does it taste a normal level of fresh, spicy, and sweet? Or does it taste bland or “off”?
If you answered YES to any of the bolded questions, you should buy some new cinnamon. And now that you know how to store cinnamon sticks you’ll be able to give that new cinnamon the perfect storage conditions!
I hope you found this post to be helpful, and don’t forget to check out the recipes below for some fall cooking inspiration!
Want to see what I’m up to on social media? Follow me on Insta, I share reels and stories so you can see into our life off grid, farming, homemaking, teaching, and messing up, all in the great Canadian wilderness!
Another post of mine that you might like;
The Best This Or That List – Fall Edition
5 Cinnamon featured recipes you need to try!
These are a few of the many wonderful cinnamon recipes I’ve collected from my group of online friends!
CINNAMON AND HONEY ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS | EASY RECIPE
To check this recipe out, published by The Home Intent, click on the picture or click right here!
CINNAMON CHIP SOURDOUGH BREAD
To check out this recipe published by Leeds Street Collective, click on the picture or click here!
PUFF PASTRY CINNAMON TWISTS
To check out this recipe by Barefoot In The Pines click the picture or click here!
Apple Pie Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with Whipped Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
To check out this recipe by Stay At home Sarah, click on the picture or click here!
CINNAMON VANILLA ICING RECIPE
To try this recipe, also by Leeds Street Collective, click the picture or click here!
Shoutout to my friend Amelia for her contributions and insight within this post! Thanks girl!
I have never heard of the risk of coumarin toxicity, thank you for this great information!
What a great post!
Very interesting, I didn’t know about potential poisoning issues. Great info!
Brad MacAonghais says
Cinnamon is almost in daily use around here. I used to hate the stuff but my wife has worn me down. Understanding some of these points might help me impress her later 😄
lol i love this! yes show off your new knowledge!
Yum! I love how much detail you put into this post, excellent resource. I absolutely love using cinnamon and when I was researching it several years ago could not believe I had no idea it was bark lol No wonder it floats! Thank you for this great info!
Interesting. I knew to buy ceylon but I didn’t know all the other types!
If you are willing to keep long time, use cinnamon sticks instead of cinnamon powder. You can make powder using home grinder when needed. Our experience regarding Ceylon cinnamon is, ground cinnamon should be used before one year. It spoil very fast. The best way is, store as sticks and make powder as needed.
Thanks for this reply! Love the insight!