Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks are both readily available in most grocery stores. Both true cinnamon and cassia cinnamon may be sold as either ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick. All forms of cinnamon come from trees in the Cinnamomum genus. In the US, most of the cinnamon that you will find in a grocery store is of the cassia variety (Cinnamomum cassia) but the true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) variety is also available. Despite their similarities, there are certain things that you will need to consider if you are faced with the need to choose between ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks. Consider those factors in the SPICEography Showdown below.
How does ground cinnamon differ from cinnamon stick?
Ground cinnamon is cinnamon bark that has been ground to a powder; cinnamon sticks consist of the same bark rolled up into quills, so the first big difference is form. This means that you will add the two variants of this spice to your dish in different ways. You sprinkle ground cinnamon while you will add cinnamon sticks to a liquid so that it can infuse into that liquid. In both cases, the results will be similar enough but cinnamon sticks generally offer a subtler flavor when compared to ground cinnamon.
Both ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks can last for a long time when you store them correctly; however, cinnamon sticks will last longer. In general, ground spices have a much shorter shelf life when you compare them to their whole counterparts. Ground cinnamon lasts for about six months under ideal conditions, whole cinnamon sticks can last for up to two years.
Can you use ground cinnamon in place of cinnamon stick and vice versa?
You can use ground cinnamon in any application that calls for cinnamon stick. In a dish that consists mostly of liquid or a beverage, you may need to add it later in the cooking or baking process. The extra surface area that you will get from adding a powder over a cinnamon sticks means that it is likely to release its flavor more quickly and will not last as long. Adding it closer to the end of cooking can ensure that it is still flavorful when you serve the food.
You can use cinnamon stick in place of ground cinnamon without changing anything if the application contains a lot of liquid. In these cases, you can simply steep the stick and take it out before serving. In a dry application, a cinnamon stick may not be a convenient substitute since you cannot sprinkle it in this form nor can you remove it from something like a cake or roll. In those cases, you can use a spice grinder or grater to reduce the cinnamon stick to powder.
When should you use ground cinnamon and when should you use cinnamon sticks?
Use cinnamon sticks in liquid preparations that require you to immerse the stick. Cinnamon sticks are most effective when you use them in applications like mulled wines, stews, and curries. Also, some methods of preparing hot chocolate call for cinnamon sticks. You should also opt for cinnamon sticks over ground cinnamon if the dish that you are making will be cooked for a long time. This is because cinnamon in quill form releases its flavor over a longer period. Use ground cinnamon in applications like cinnamon rolls and cinnamon toast where a whole cinnamon stick would be impractical.