Cinnamon is available in either stick or powder form. While the sticks can be stored for longer, the ground powder has a stronger flavor. If possible, smell the cinnamon to make sure that it has a sweet smell, a characteristic reflecting that it is fresh.
Oftentimes, both Ceylon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon (cassia) are labeled as cinnamon. If you want to find the sweeter, more refined tasting Ceylon variety, you may need to shop in either a local spice store or ethnic market since this variety is generally less available. Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown cinnamon since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating cinnamon may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.)
Cinnamon should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cinnamon will keep for about six months, while cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about one year stored this way. Alternatively, you can extend their shelf life by storing them in the refrigerator. To check to see if it is still fresh, smell the cinnamon. If it does not smell sweet, it is no longer fresh and should be discarded.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
Enjoy one of the favorite kids' classics—cinnamon toast—with a healthy twist. Drizzle flax seed oil onto whole wheat toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon and honey.
Simmer cinnamon sticks with soymilk and honey for a deliciously warming beverage.
Adding ground cinnamon to black beans to be used in burritos or nachos will give them a uniquely delicious taste.
Healthy sauté lamb with eggplant, raisins and cinnamon sticks to create a Middle Eastern inspired meal.
Add ground cinnamon when preparing curries.