Cinnamon sticks are a spice taken from the bark of the tropical evergreen. The tree is stripped and the strips left to dry in the open air. Once dry, they are cut into the small stick shapes we all know. These are ground into the familiar cinnamon powder used in cooking and baking. Cinnamon is a key part of many dishes, from meat stews to Eastern fare to baked goods, such as apple pies and pastry. If you find yourself with cinnamon sticks when you need ground cinnamon, you can grind the stick and salvage your recipe.
Place your cinnamon sticks into a manual or automatic coffee grinder. If the sticks are too long, break them into smaller pieces by hand so the lid of the grinder can close without obstruction.
Start the grinder and run until the cinnamon has been completely pulverized. If you are using a manual grinder, turn the blades by hand. This should be done with several short bursts that vary in length and frequency according to the amount and type of cinnamon you are grinding.
Remove the cinnamon powder from your grinder by pouring it into a small bowl, then insert the next batch of sticks to be ground. Repeat the process until you have sufficient cinnamon powder.
Grinding may be preferable to grating or pounding when it comes to cinnamon, since the fibrous makeup of cinnamon bark does not respond well to other techniques. You may end up with a stringy mess rather than usable cinnamon powder.
Some grinders are far less efficient and effective than others. Do not waste your money on grinders with openings in their housings through which cinnamon powder can escape, blades set too high within the interior to allow them to reach small pieces of cinnamon that might be left over, or insufficiently sharp blades to cut through the tough bark you will be grinding.
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.