The Best Storage Tip To Retain Cinnamon's Vibrant Flavor For An Extended Time

Cinnamon is one of the best spices to keep on hand in your kitchen cabinet — thanks to its versatility, it can be used to elevate both sweet and savory dishes. But to get the most out of the spice, you'll want to make sure it maintains its vibrant flavor for the longest amount of time, which might mean ditching the container it came in and upgrading its storage situation.

Whether you prefer ground cinnamon or whole sticks, one of the most important factors is the packaging. Just like with most food items, cinnamon will last longer in an airtight container, such as Tupperware or a tightly sealed glass jar. If you want to, you could even vacuum seal the cinnamon, though this does require more effort and equipment and won't make much of a difference compared to the protection of a sealed jar. The important thing is that both methods will minimize the cinnamon's exposure to the elements of outside air that might shorten its shelf life.

For example, there's a reason that spices and other foods, including cinnamon, often have instructions to "store in a cool and dry place" — heat, including direct sunlight, can speed the breakdown of the compounds that give cinnamon its signature warm taste. Additionally, cinnamon is one spice that can take on other odors after being exposed to them, which will take away from cinnamon's natural aromas. But if you keep your cinnamon sealed, it'll flavor your dishes beautifully for plenty of meals to come.

How long does cinnamon last?

Even if they seem like they last forever, spices do, in fact, go bad — cinnamon included — and will lose flavor and potency over time. If kept in your average spice packaging, ground cinnamon may only last a few months, but an airtight container can extend that shelf life to two or three years. Meanwhile, cinnamon sticks can last even longer in an airtight container: four to five years. All in all, that's a whole lot of time to make some delicious cinnamon-infused dishes

You may be wondering if placing the cinnamon in the fridge or freezer might buy you even more shelf life. First things first: Keeping it in the fridge is something to avoid. A refrigerator has too much moisture for the cinnamon (in other words, it's a cool but not dry place, and both characteristics are important). As for the freezer, you can put your airtight container of cinnamon in there, but it won't extend the shelf life any further — and it even runs the risk of the cinnamon losing its flavor. So as long as your cinnamon is tucked away in an airtight container, you can simply keep it in the cupboard with the other spices without worry. 

However, even when you're storing it correctly, it doesn't hurt to look for signs that the cinnamon is spoiling. If you notice clumps, discoloring, or any type of strange odor, then it's time to get rid of it and buy a fresh batch.