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Grinding cinnamon

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I recently bought cinnamon sticks, and have been using my microplane grater to grind it. This seems fairly labor-intensive. I've heard that people use a coffee grinder to grind spices, but I don't have one. Is it really worth the $$$ to get a coffee grinder just to grind cinnamon? Any other suggestions as to what might work better than the microplane? Thanks

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  1. If you're grinding cinnamon frequently enough, you could pick up an inexpensive coffee grinder and dedicate it specifically to spices (you can also use it for grinding cloves) and I would say it is worth it - otherwise why not just use a good quality ground cinnamon and save yourself the hassle?

    Link: http://www.tartingitup.com

    1. I do have a separate coffee grinder for herbs/spices I want to chop up. Used it last weekend when I needed a LOT of ground pepper and didn't want to get carpal tunnel grinding from my pepper grinder.

      However, for cinnamon, I would think buying a top-of-the-line ground cinnamon from Penzey's would be a heck of a lot easier. Their cassia or Vietnamese cinnamon is the best, IMO.

      1. I don't think it is worth the money of you are only grinding cinnamon and only doing that occasionally. However if you do a lot of cooking with spices, fresh ground is just so much better so to me its worth having an extra grinder. You can find cheap ones for as low as $9.99 by pouring over dept. store "super sale/one day sales" flyer's or checking out your local bargain home stores like Home Goods or Marshals.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodiex2

          I actually use my coffee grinder to also grind spices - I bought a special brush to clean it out (a weak moment) and then just grind a small amount of coffee beans to remove the spice flavor. But, I don't grind spices often.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Yes, it only worth it if you grind a lot and often. Other wise cleaning out your coffee one is that big of a deal. Personally I don't mind a little nutmeg or cinnamon in my coffee but cumin is a little much for me! ;)

            To the OP: if you go this route keep in mind some spices are "oilier" than others so you need to be mindful to brush it clean AND wipe it out thoroughly between uses

        2. j
          JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          Without a doubt, yes. It's wonderful. You should be able to pick up a good rotary model for 10-20 dollars; I'm partial to my Braun ones, but I've heard Capresso makes a good one too.

          Stick cinnamon often has a different flavor from ground cinnamon; I'd do what a number of the other posters recommend and pick up some ground cassia cinnamon from Penzey's. The Extra-Fancy Vietnamese one makes me swoon.

          Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

          4 Replies
          1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

            I wonder if the difference in aroma is due to the fact that Penzey's grinds real cinnamon, from the bark of the cinnamon tree, whereas the "stick" cinnamon that most people buy in little jars is actually from an entirely different plant called cassia (both are from the bark of asian evergreen trees).

            Mr. Taster

            Canela molida is not a different species. It's simply the Spanish words for "ground cinnamon."

            Cinnamon has been the fuzzy focus of factious fluster for centuries, as the spice trade offered several different products as "cinnamon" and as new classification systems named and renamed various plant species. The major confusion, however, has been between true cinnamon and cassia, a member of the same genus, Cinnamomum.

            True cinnamon is the bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), the most prevalent species names of which are Cinnamomum verum ("true cinnamon") and C. zeylanicum ("Ceylon cinnamon"), of which C. seylanicum is a variant spelling. In Europe, the word "cinnamon" is limited to this species.

            But in the United States, the FDA allows the word to be used not only for real cinnamon, but also for cassia and C. cassia, as well as for the Chinese and Indonesian cassia varieties, which go by several names. As a result, economics have forced the more expensive and more delicately flavored true cinnamon out of most supermarkets -- although it is available from specialty suppliers. So most of us have been eating cassia, not cinnamon.

            1. re: Mr. Taster
              JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

              Penzey's has both cassia and real cinnamon in ground. The real cinnamon is considerably mellower.

              Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

            2. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

              I agree, Penzey's cinnamon is the best. Try their Apple Pie Spice mix also. It's made with China and Korintjie Cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves.

              1. re: Antilope

                Yes, Penzey's has a great selection of different cinnamons, including the cassia and the other. You can smell samples of all of them in the shops if there is one near you, to see what you like. I too am crazy about the Vietnamese cassia. It is strong and sweet smelling and I love it for baking.

            3. I gotta say, for me, it's totally worth the $10-15 for a second coffee grinder. I use mine pretty regularly. Probably only once a month or so, but it's been worth it to avoid weird tasting coffee. Plus, I've found that now that I have it I'm using more spices in my cooking than I used to. It's just easier, and I don't think it's too expensive. It's definately cheaper than a lot of the spices you'll be grinding!

              1. I have an inexpensive little Salton coffee grinder
                that I only use for spices.
                There is no other method that gives the same results.

                1. I have a cheap pepper mill that I use for grinding small amounts of spice blends.

                  I also have a old blade style coffee mill that I use for larger amounts.

                  1. Is it possible to grind the thick cassia bark (e.g. Vietnamese) in a coffee grinder? I have ground the thinner true cinnamon, either in the grinder or with mortar and pestle.

                    But, usually if I need ground cinnamon, I use the preground stuff. I normally use the sticks by steeping them in boiling water or a cooking item (like rice pudding). A good cinnamon flavor base can be made using Mexican raw sugar (piloncillo) and cinnamon sticks to make a syrup.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: paulj

                      I know this reply is pretty late, however others my find my experiences of some value.
                      I have the type of coffee grinder that most here are describing, as well as two mills, one, a DeLonghi has plastic grinders which stalled almost instantly when using it for Vietnamese cassia which I had first broken up into smaller fragments, but the mill simply can't do the work.

                      Next I dumped the broken pieces of cassia into a Capresso burr grinder which is a heavier machine with all metal burrs. Same thing, it too stalled almost as quickly as the cheaper mill. The best results were with the inexpensive blade grinder. Frankly I believe a coffee mill will not do a fine enough grind, even if you could get one to work on the killer cassia. Ground cinnamon and cassia have a much finer texture than the finest espresso grinder setting can achieve. I think I'll just buy ground product next time.

                    2. I have a $10 electric coffee grinder I always have ready for black peppercorns because my jaded palate really likes a lot of pepper in some dishes. I can use it for spices too. You can clean it out with the compressed air canisters you use to clean computers and by grinding uncooked rice in it, sometimes need to do that a couple of times. Interestingly, the fresh ground black pepper stays tasting fresh ground for a week or two. It must take months of getting stale to make restaurant table pepper so insipid.

                      1. It is best that you grind your own cinnamon because it is difficult to identify whether it is cassia or cinnamon when powdered. What is sold in the US is actually Cassia. Excessive use of cassia could be toxic. Please click the below link to read more.....