The scent is part of the appeal of an aromatic spice, and that of cinnamon is quite distinctive. Over time, cinnamon will lose its pungent scent and flavor. Storing cinnamon properly can help to keep it fresh longer. The form cinnamon is in also can impact how long it keeps its potency. When stored correctly, cinnamon in stick form can last longer than ground cinnamon.
The Right Place
Storing cinnamon in the wrong place is a major factor in it losing potency earlier than it should. Those decorative spice racks for the kitchen are the wrong choice for storing the spice. Wall-hung and countertop spice racks subject spices to light, unless the bottles are made of dark or opaque glass. However, even if the light cannot get through the glass, there is still the factor of the rising and falling level of heat, and its potential to cause condensation in the bottles. Hanging a spice rack on a wall near the stove risks damage to the cinnamon from the humidity produced by cooking steam. Choose a cool, dark and dry place, ideally between 59 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
The strength of the scent is a primary factor in determining the freshness of cinnamon. If its scent has weakened, expect the flavor to also be weakened. However, it's important to note that there are different types of cinnamon, and some don't have the same sharp scent that consumers in the United States are accustomed to. The two primary types of cinnamon are Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon, sometimes referred to as Chinese cinnamon. The Ceylon is more common to European and Asian markets. Cassia cinnamon is the variety familiar to most American shoppers. Thus, an American nose could mistake the smoother, though still warmly spicy, Ceylon cinnamon as being past its prime.
When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard, cinnamon sticks can last approximately three years. During that time, the scent may fade slightly, but not so much that the quality of the cinnamon will be noticeably affected. Grinding cinnamon freshly for each recipe from cinnamon sticks offers the best taste, as the essential oils of the cinnamon are better preserved when the stick is intact.
Ground cinnamon has a much shorter shelf life than cinnamon sticks because grinding releases some of the volatile oils. Keeping jar lids tightly closed is essential. Don't sprinkle directly from the jar into something hot, as steam can get into the jar and damage the cinnamon. Another common way that moisture is introduced into ground cinnamon through a slightly damp measuring spoon. Ground cinnamon typically lasts about six months, but with scrupulous care can last a year before weakening.
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- Transport Information Service, Cargo Loss Prevention Information From German Marine Insurers: Cinnamon
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Cinnamon
- Cooks Illustrated: Cinnamon
- Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service: Cupboard: Approximate Storage Times
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