How to Make Ground Cinnamon

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Cinnamon's essential oils and other flavor compounds quickly dissipate once ground.
Cinnamon's essential oils and other flavor compounds quickly dissipate once ground. (Image: cinnamon image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko from Fotolia.com)

Stick cinnamon, the thin, curled inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka, possesses an aromatic, sweet yet tangy flavor. Used extensively in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and South America for savory dishes, it also spices many desserts, baked goods, tea and coffee drinks. While convenient for many recipes, ground cinnamon lacks the intensity of stick cinnamon. Whole cinnamon quills keep their flavor almost indefinitely, so buying cinnamon whole and grinding it yourself produces a fresh cinnamon powder with a greater depth of flavor than pre-ground cinnamon.

Things You'll Need

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Microplane grater
  • Coffee or spice grinder
  • Mortar and pestle

Mortar and Pestle

Choose a heavy-duty granite mortar and pestle to grind cinnamon by hand. Place cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces if possible, inside the bowl-shaped mortar. Grinding the cinnamon against the mortar releases the oils and volatile compounds responsible for cinnamon's flavor and aroma.

A stone mortar and pestle work efficiently to grind whole cinnamon by hand.
A stone mortar and pestle work efficiently to grind whole cinnamon by hand. (Image: cinnamon and mortar image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from Fotolia.com)

Position the pestle on top of the cinnamon and apply downward pressure, then grind the cinnamon using a circular motion. Force the whole cinnamon pieces against the surface of the mortar with the pestle, carefully pulverizing the pieces using the circular motion.

Fry whole cinnamon dry in a pan about 30 seconds before grinding it in the mortar and pestle if you want the make the grinding process less laborious.

Wash the mortar and pestle after each use. These are easily cleaned when constructed from stone.

Microplane

Use a high-quality, small-hole microplane, a kitchen tool with a serrated face, to grind your cinnamon sticks easily and efficiently by hand. Grasp the microplane's handle, firmly setting the edge of the microplane on a chopping board, flat plate or flat surface. Move the cinnamon stick steadily and carefully up and down against the trenches on the microplane's face, applying greater pressure on the downward motion.

Avoid moving the microplane tool against the cinnamon stick, as this action may lead to injury of your hand or fingers.

Rinse the microplane with warm water after each use and properly store it in its protective case.

Coffee/Spice Grinder

Use an electric coffee/spice grinder reserved specifically for use with spices, preferably lined with a metal interior rather than plastic to prevent absorption of the spices' smell and flavor.

Using a coffee grinder to grind cinnamon is quick and efficient.
Using a coffee grinder to grind cinnamon is quick and efficient. (Image: Coffee grinder image by NBo from Fotolia.com)

Break the cinnamon quill into 1-inch pieces and drop them into the grinder. Pulse the grinder until the cinnamon powder reaches the desired consistency.

Brush away the residue and wipe the detachable containment piece clean with a cloth after each use.

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