How Long Does Cinnamon Last?

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One of the subtlest yet most vibrant of spices, cinnamon, is used for everything from spicing up cakes to flavoring drinks to adding a little depth to gravies and meat. Cinnamon even went viral with the cinnamon challenge with people figuring out that this delicious spice is not that consumable in its raw form.

Cinnamon is also used to spice up your favorite beverages like tea and coffee and who doesn’t enjoy baked treats like cinnamon rolls and churros? Cinnamon is a delicious spice that is used across cuisines and cultures and is so versatile that it can be found in different courses of a menu. 

Cinnamon is available in two forms in the market, as cinnamon sticks and as ground cinnamon. Both of these have a very long shelf life. It takes a lot for cinnamon to spoil, it is most likely to lose flavor, taste, and fragrance, which is when you should buy some fresh cinnamon.

Most people have cinnamon in some form or another in their kitchens. And most often than not you’re left wondering if your cinnamon is still usable or if it has spoiled. If you are not sure if you should use the sticks of cinnamon you purchased months ago or if the ground cinnamon is too old to be effective, read on to find out how long cinnamon actually lasts, if it spoils and how you should store it.

How Long Does Cinnamon Last?

Properly stored cinnamon has a seriously long shelf life and will last for years. 

  • Cinnamon sticks that have been opened usually last for about 2-3 years.
  • An unopened box of cinnamon sticks will last for close to 4 years.
  • Even after that period of time, the cinnamon will not spoil, but it will lose its potency and flavor.
  • If you store it properly, the cinnamon sticks will continue to retain flavor indefinitely.
  • Ground cinnamon has a pretty good shelf life too, just not as long as cinnamon sticks.
  • An opened container of ground cinnamon will last for about 1 year if stored in an airtight container with the lid shut tightly at all times.
  • An unopened container of ground cinnamon on the other hand will last for about 2 years, maybe even more.
Type of CinnamonPantry/Kitchen Cabinet
Opened box of cinnamon sticks2-3 years
Unopened box of cinnamon sticks4 years
Opened container of ground cinnamon1 year
Unopened container of ground cinnamon2 years

The above table is an estimate of the shelf life of cinnamon. The actual shelf life will depend on a number of factors, most importantly, how it has been stored. If you want the cinnamon, in whichever form, to last as long as it can, you need to ensure that it has been stored properly. 

Do also keep in mind that cinnamon will lose its flavor if left open or loose in the pantry or cabinet. It won’t be spoiled but it would have lost all its flavor, making its use redundant irrespective of how long you’ve had it.

Improper storage will severely cut short cinnamon’s shelf life. If you are ever using cinnamon which has no significant flavor and no discernible scent, then it is time to invest in a fresh batch.

How To Properly Store Cinnamon?

Cinnamon, like most spices, needs to be stored properly to be effective and flavorful. 

  • The most important thing is to store the cinnamon in an airtight container.
  • Cinnamon sticks usually come in sealed, plastic packets. If you are not planning to use it immediately, then you can store it as is in the cabinet or pantry.
  • Once you open it, transfer the sticks into an airtight container and seal the lid tightly.
  • The more the cinnamon stick gets exposed to air, the more flavoring and fragrance it loses. So be careful when using it. 
  • Ground cinnamon is sold both in bottles and in sealed packets. Similarly, transfer the ground cinnamon into a dry airtight container. Keep it tightly closed when not in use.
  • Cinnamon need not be refrigerated, though many people believe that the cold helps pack in the flavor. The opposite in fact is true, extreme heat and cold will make cinnamon lose its strength and potency.
  • When storing it in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, make sure it is in a cool, dark place. Cinnamon should be stored away from direct heat and sunlight, else it will lose its potency. 

Does Cinnamon Get Spoiled?

It is very, very uncommon for cinnamon to spoil, there is a higher chance of it getting old and losing its potency. Here are a few things to watch out for if your cinnamon has been sitting in your pantry for too long:

  • Smell: the first thing to do before using cinnamon is to smell it. If it has absolutely no distinctive smell, then it is way past its prime and on the way out. Cinnamon has a lovely, mild but characteristic smell. If your cinnamon has no smell, it is time to get a fresh batch. On the other hand, if your cinnamon smells pungent or off then it has spoiled.
  • Taste: Cinnamon has a very particular taste, whether it is used in baking or cooking. If your cinnamon is tasteless then there is no point in using it. Get rid of it and buy new cinnamon.
  • Texture: Ground cinnamon has to be dry and loose, if your cinnamon powder has become clumpy or has moisture in them, it is no longer usable. Cinnamon sticks, similarly, have to be dry and hard. If your cinnamon sticks have become slimy, sticky, or soft it has definitely gone bad. 
  • Another thing to watch out for is mold on your cinnamon. If you see any kind of growth or black, white, or green spots on your cinnamon then it has to be trashed. This type of decay happens due to external contamination. 
  • If you find bugs, insects, or weevils in your cinnamon that is an indicator that your cinnamon is very old. 

Cinnamon is a versatile spice that adds some zing to dishes. It not only helps elevate simple dishes but adds some extra flavor to them. Cinnamon is also packed with health benefits making it even more in demand. Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels and can help control type 2 diabetes, it also helps in managing blood pressure, and even reduces the risk of heart disease. It is an anti-inflammatory spice that supports gut health and is loaded with antioxidants, besides being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. With so much going for it, no wonder cinnamon is such a popular spice. 

However often you use it, make sure you have cinnamon in your spice rack or kitchen cabinet, you’ll never know when you’ll need it.

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