The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

fresh or pre-ground cinnamon / nutmeg ??

expatCanuck's picture

fresh or pre-ground cinnamon / nutmeg ??

Greetings -

Best o' the season to y'all.

Is there a significant difference between using freshly ground cinnamon or nutmeg, as opposed to the pre-ground variety?

And if fresh is that much better, what do you typically use to grind them?


- Richard

Floydm's picture

I'm pretty sure the answer is "yes," the question is just whether it is worth the extra cost and effort to you. I typically use pre-ground because I'm cheap frugal, but whenever I've had fresh ground it knocks my socks off.

I have a little finger sized spice shaver.  I think it came with a jar of whole nutmegs that I got some time ago.

SylviaH's picture

I recently ordered some packages of vietnamese cinnamon from King Arthur bread site and the flavor was incrediable compared to anything I have purchased..they say vietnamese/siagon is the best cinnamon in the world!! fresh ground nutmeg is also delicious.  For my nutmeg I use just one of those very fine shredder blades made just the purpose of for flaking a fresh nutmeg or zesting citrus.

LindyD's picture

You can pick up a spice grater at any good store selling kitchen/baking supplies.  Or at Amazon.

Fresh spices taste better and smell better (especially while your grating them).  Nutmeg is really easy to grate - you just whisk the nutmeg across the grater till you've grated the amount you need.  Then the remainder of the nutmeg goes back into the jar.

Fresh is great.  Try Tellicherry whole black peppercorns in your pepper grinder someday.

PaddyL's picture

I use ground cinnamon because I'm not sure of the cinnamon sticks, but I use grated fresh nutmeg all the time now and love the taste.

Eli's picture

go with the fresh. I prefer all fresh. You can purchase grinders just about anywhere and a microplane also works on most.


cady's picture


I saw an episode of "Good Eats with Alton Brown" where he visited with the folks at the spice house (  They strongly encouraged the use of fresh ground spices except for cinnamon.  They said that the cinnamon sticks we can purchase in stores are a lower quality cinnamon.  So, she recommended that you purchase the ground.  That said, the fresher the grind the better. The spices contain volitle oils.  If you can smell them, they are leaving spice.

I purchased some "true" cinnamon from the spice house. (Our cinnamon is actually from a different tree.) The "true" tasted and smelled like cinnamon candies, e.g. red hots, cinnamon bears). I always wondered why cinnamon for cooking was so different from the cinnamon candies.  The true goes really well in hot cocoa and on top of apple cobbler.


Yerffej's picture

The difference between freshly grated nutmeg and preground nutmeg is as big as night and day.   There is a grater made specifically for nutmeg.  Get one of those and a handful of whole nutmeg and I promise you will not be sorry.


mkelly27's picture

I trust Penzey's Spices.  They will even tell you that the Cinnamon sticks are not cinnamon bark, they love fresh Nutmeg.  I believe their site is

I use them because there is not a spice shop within 100 miles of me.

BTW, if you go to their site, check out the recipe section.  I am making the "Kringle" recipe for x-mas morning

expatCanuck's picture

Thanks for the reference -- the one in Arlington, MA is about a 30 min. drive from home.  I'll have to check it out.

micki's picture

Don't mean to sound dumb, but what do you use cinnamon sticks for?  I've a jar of them in the cupboard and have wondered why I've got them.

PaddyL's picture

I use them in cups of tea or coffee.

carbjunkie's picture

If you make hot cider they are nice to infuse in the cider...and it makes the house smell very nice.

ehanner's picture

I am fortunate in that I live in the city that has Penzies Headquarters and several spice shops to choose from. One of the really great things about going there in person is that for every single spice they sell, they have a 2 cup glass canister sitting in the display so you can smell the specific aroma of that spice. For example they sell I believe 4 variety's of cinnamon. Each one is a unique and special aroma, nothing like the others. For my own taste and the life long memory of what cinnamon should smell like, I find that the store bought generic brand is what I prefer for apple pies and sweet stick buns. It is much more mild and it's what I remember as right. The Chinese and Vietnamese are much more intense.

For the small cost of ordering a small bottle of all of the variety's they sell, I think it would be enlightening to determine which one you like before ordering a years supply.

Nutmeg is amazingly better fresh as has been stated above. The whole nuts seem to last forever. If you haven't had eggnog with a grind of fresh nutmeg, well, you are missing something.