Fresh spices are always going to deliver the best flavors in your foods, whether you are cooking or baking. Changing out the jars of ground spices in your spice cabinet is a good idea to keep things fresh, as you don’t want to cook with a jar that has been sitting around dulling in flavor for more than a few months. Freshly ground spices deliver the most flavor, yet they aren’t always called for in recipes.
One spice that I always use freshly ground is nutmeg. The whole nutmegs keep for a very long time and you can buy special nutmeg graters that, like pepper mills do for peppercorns, make it easy to get ground nutmeg on demand. The Cinnamon Grater from Cinnamon Hill, which Cinnamon Hill kindly sent me to try out, does that same thing for cinnamon – and may very well make you a convert to freshly ground cinnamon as a staple in your kitchen. The nifty looking grater, which comes with its own ceramic storage cup, is specially designed to finely grate cinnamon sticks into a fine powder with ease. You can grate a pinch to finish off a dish or a lot to bake a cake with, just rub the stick over the metal for a few seconds and you’re ready to go!
The grater worked even better than I thought it would. It really took very little effort to grate the cinnamon and the resulting powder was very fine. I tried a few different types of cinnamon – some that Cinnamon Hill sells, as well as some cinnamon sticks that I bought at the grocery store. Some cinnamon was harder than others (the ceylon seemed to be the softest of the bunch) and was slightly more prone to flaking during grating. These big flakes were still few and far between, and were easily sifted out when they happened. Most cinnamon sticks grated very finely and evenly, producing a very fragrant ground spice to work with.
To be honest, the grater was so easy to use that I’m surprised freshly ground cinnamon isn’t more popular than it is. This is the kind of little gadget that I could see being sold in Williams Sonoma, since it is just as easy to use as a nutmeg grater, although you do generally need more cinnamon than nutmeg for any given recipe. I’ll definitely be using fresh cinnamon a little more often now that it is easier for me to get exactly the amount I need on demand.