Cinnamon sticks are obtained from the dried inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, a native of Sri Lanka and Southern India. Featuring a distinctive brown color and a sweet, warm fragrance, cinnamon sticks are widely appreciated for their culinary and aromatic benefits. They vary in length, usually from 2 to 6 inches, and thickness, which also influences the strength of flavor and aroma they release.
Cinnamon sticks are versatile additions to various recipes, including desserts, beverages, stews, and savory dishes, adding a delectable warmth and subtle sweetness. They can be used whole, crushed, or ground and should be removed after cooking, as their texture remains woody.
Whilst cooking with cinnamon sticks, people often get confused about how to grind them, when to add them to the dish, and what is the right quantity. Most common mistakes include using too much, resulting in an overwhelming flavor, or adding the stick too late in the cooking process, resulting in a lack of flavor infusion. To get the most out of cinnamon sticks, they should be added at the beginning of the cooking process for maximum flavor release. For a fun little trick, try making cinnamon-infused oil or syrup that can be used in a multitude of recipes.
Interestingly, not all the cinnamon sticks in grocery stores are true cinnamon. Most of the time, what you find is actually cassia, a cheaper variant with a stronger flavor, but it lacks the subtle sweetness and delicate texture of Ceylon cinnamon sticks. While both types are fine for most recipes, it's worth trying to source Ceylon cinnamon sticks for special occasions or specific dishes.
Are cinnamon sticks a healthy ingredient?
Can I make tea with cinnamon sticks?
How do I use cinnamon stick in cooking?
Can I eat cinnamon stick?
Can cinnamon sticks be reused?
How many cinnamon sticks should I use in a recipe?
What's the difference between ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks?
Can you grind cinnamon sticks into powder?
Can I use ground cinnamon instead of cinnamon sticks?
Do different types of cinnamon sticks taste different?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does cinnamon stick expire?
If stored properly, unopened cinnamon sticks can last from 3-4 years beyond the 'best by' date on the package. An opened pack of cinnamon sticks may not retain their prime quality beyond a year, though they will remain safe to use for much longer. When frozen, these sticks can extend their shelf life for up to 5 years without losing much of their aroma and flavor.
How do you tell if cinnamon stick is bad?
Cinnamon sticks don't truly expire, but they do lose their strength and flavor over time. So, if it smells weak or doesn't have much of an aroma, your cinnamon stick might be past its prime. Similarly, if a cinnamon stick doesn't impart much flavor while cooking, it's an indication it's becoming stale. Remember, the stick itself will remain safe to consume, it's the flavor quality that degrades over time.
Tips for storing cinnamon stick to extend shelf life
• Always store cinnamon sticks in a cool, dark, dry place. Avoid places that are warm or humid.
• Use airtight containers or resealable plastic bags to keep them fresh longer. Make sure every time you use them; you seal the package properly again.
• If you need to extend the shelf life for longer, consider freezing the cinnamon sticks. Always allow them to reach room temperature before using in your dishes to get the best flavor.
• Using whole cinnamon sticks and grinding them as needed can also prolong their shelf life, as ground cinnamon tends to lose its potency quicker.