Ground cinnamon is a spice with a festive scent that reminds many of fall and winter celebrations. Cooks use this spice as a flavoring agent in variety of sweet and savory dishes, as well as in beverage items. The shelf life of ground cinnamon varies on several factors; however, practicing proper storage techniques may help to preserve its shelf life.
Types of Cinnamon
There exist two primary varieties of cinnamon: ceylon and cassia. Ceylon cinnamon is indigenous to Sri Lanka, light in color and has a sweet taste. Most consumers are familiar with cassia cinnamon, which has a bolder color and a milder taste. Cassia cinnamon is native to China, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that cinnamon contains a compound known as cinnamyl, which serves as a protective agent against harmful pathogens. A study published in the June 2007 edition of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" concludes that cinnamon has antibacterial properties that protect against foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Maria Collazo-Clavell, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic notes that cinnamon may help to lower blood-glucose levels in diabetic patients. Further research is necessary to validate this claim, and you should not rely upon cinnamon to treat a medical condition.
Several factors determine the shelf life of ground cinnamon. Processing methods as well as storage techniques impact its expiration date. Sauer's, a spice manufacturer based in Richmond, Virgina, suggests discarding ground cinnamon after two years while Ohio State University Extension explains that ground cinnamon has a shelf life of six months. To accurately gauge the shelf life of ground cinnamon, examine whether or not the color has faded, the flavor has weakened or the smell has dulled. Alterations in color, flavor and taste are indicators of whether or not it is time to replace your ground cinnamon.
Preservation of the shelf life of cinnamon may be enhances by storing the spice in an airtight container and placing it in a storage space that is cool, dark and dry. Furthermore, when using the spice, shake the container over food products away from a heated stove top, as the heat and moisture may cause damage to the oils found in the spice.