Spices like cinnamon have an incredibly long shelf life, since they are essentially a dried powder with very little that could go bad. Still, all foods go bad at some point, especially if you don’t keep them properly, so knowing how to store cinnamon is important.
Cinnamon can take up to four years to go bad in the right conditions, regardless of whether you keep it in sticks or powder since both are dried and preserved. At the same time, any contamination or bad handling can ruin cinnamon in a matter of days, so it is important to make sure your cinnamon is somewhere safe and secure when not in use.
This article will go over how to ensure that your cinnamon lasts as long as possible by properly storing it.
Does Cinnamon Go Bad? How Long Does Cinnamon Last?
Cinnamon has an incredibly long shelf life in the right conditions, but it can go bad in a matter of days if you don’t store it in a safe way.
How Long Does Cinnamon Last Outside
Cinnamon, in either stick or power form, can last up to four years in a pantry as long as you keep it stored correctly, even if you use the spice regularly.
The key to keeping cinnamon long term is to make sure you store it in a clean, cool, and dry environment with a container that will keep out any pests or contaminants that might ruin the spice.
While the form of cinnamon you have doesn’t affect its shelf life, but it is easier to store powdered cinnamon than hard sticks, so consider grinding down your cinnamon to make keeping it easier.
How Long Does Cinnamon Last in the Fridge
The reason refrigerators are useful for storing food is because they slow down the chemical reactions in food that lead to it spoiling, since food breaks down and rots over time.
Since cinnamon is a dried spice, however, there is very little in cinnamon that can react over time so refrigerating does nothing to increase the shelf life of cinnamon, as the main danger with cinnamon is staleness, not spoiling.
In fact, if the cinnamon is exposed to cold temperatures, moisture, or strong smells while in the refrigerator they might ruin the taste of the spice and make it unusable.
How Long Does Cinnamon Last in the Freezer
While the refrigerator is harmless to cinnamon, the freezer is actively dangerous to the quality and shelf life of spices like cinnamon for a variety of reasons, so you should never store cinnamon in your freezer.
Firstly, the extreme cold in a freezer can damage the chemicals in cinnamon the give the spice its flavor and quality, so even safely freezing spice can ruin the product in a matter of hours.
Secondly, cinnamon is susceptible to freezer burn, and if any ice or moisture gets into the container this can ruin the cinnamon before the extreme cold gets a chance.
Cinnamon can last for years in a pantry, but the cold of a refrigerator or freezer can actually damage the spice and cause it to go bad incredibly quickly.
How To Tell If Cinnamon Has Gone Bad / How To Know Cinnamon is Fresh
It can be hard to tell when a spice has gone bad because of their naturally long shelf life and powerful aroma, both of which can hide signs of going bad. Because of this you will have to look for other signs that cinnamon has gone bad in order to determine if the spice is fresh and safe to use.
Aroma. Fresh cinnamon will have a strong scent and taste, so much in fact that you should get a strong whiff every time you open your cinnamon container. If your cinnamon has lost its original scent and taste, or if they have been replaced with a new, rancid taste, then the cinnamon has likely gone bad.
Clumps. While some clumping is expected when keeping a lot of spice in a container, if these clumps hold together when you try to break them up then you have a problem. Tough, stubborn clumping means that your cinnamon is contaminated with something sticky that is holding the spice together, and has likely caused it to go bad.
Growths. If you find any fuzzy or discolored growths on your cinnamon then you need to throw it out as soon as possible and wash the container out as thoroughly as you can. Growths like these are the first sign of mold, bacteria, and other dangerous contaminants growing on your food.
How to Store Cinnamon?
Since the pantry is the only viable place to store cinnamon, it is especially important that you know how to keep cinnamon from going bad. Despite having an incredibly long shelf life, cinnamon can go bad easily if it is exposed to anything that might damage the spice, either in stick or powder form.
Keep an airtight container. Cinnamon needs a tightly sealed container to stay fresh, not because it will go bad in the air but because cinnamon can get contaminated. Mold, bacteria, and insects attracted to the smell and taste of the spice can be a problem so you need a tightly sealed container to keep your cinnamon in.
Stay away from heat and moisture. While light doesn’t have a major effect on cinnamon, heat and moisture will ruin any spice that is left exposed so you need to make sure you store your cinnamon somewhere cool and dry. Because of this pantries, cupboards, and spice cabinets are all excellent places to keep cinnamon.
Can You Freeze Cinnamon? How?
Due to cinnamon being already dried, there is very little in sticks or powdered cinnamon that needs to be preserved, so there is no need to freeze cinnamon to keep it fresh. In fact, freezing cinnamon can actually cause the spice to go bad since it isn’t designed to be kept at those temperatures.
Cinnamon already lasts for years. The reason freezing preserves food is because it slows all chemical reactions in the food to a crawl, letting it stay fresh longer. But since cinnamon is dried and preserved there is very little left in the spice that can react, so freezing cinnamon does nothing to preserve it further.
Extreme cold can damage cinnamon. The chemicals in cinnamon that give the spice its flavor and potency can break down in extreme cold, so being exposed to extreme cold can ruin cinnamon. If any ice forms on the cinnamon itself, either as freezer burn or from a container that isn’t airtight, that will also ruin the spice.
How to Thaw Cinnamon?
Considering that freezing cinnamon is both useless and potentially dangerous, there is no reason to thaw cinnamon under normal circumstances.
If you do ever end up in a situation where you have frozen cinnamon, it is better to throw the spice out than try to defrost the spice, since freezing damages cinnamon.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cinnamon’s Shelf Life
Cinnamon has an incredibly long shelf life on its own and is remarkably easy to keep once you know where and how to store the spice properly. Still, there are a number of questions one could ask about how to keep, handle, and use cinnamon, and here two of those questions will be answered.
How do I turn cinnamon sticks into powder? There is no one trick to turning sticks of cinnamon into powder, as long as you have a container and a tool to break down the sticks. There are both automatic and manual tools that can create different grains of powder if you need a specific type of cinnamon powder.
Can I grow cinnamon at home? Yes, cinnamon plants can be planted and grown at home as long as you have access to seeds and a knowledge of how to grow the spice. Cinnamon plants are different than cinnamon sticks or powder, however, since those have been professional processed to create a useable spice, so it will take further work to use any cinnamon you grow.
Since cinnamon is made by drying a spice out, it has an incredible shelf life and can last for years in a pantry or spice cabinet. At the same time, putting cinnamon in a refrigerator or freezer will easily ruin the spice in a few days.