Cinnamon: A Mold Inhibitor

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Updated on Feb 13, 2013

The purpose is to reduce spoilage of applesauce from microorganisms (mold) by adding cinnamon to it. The cinnamon would then serve a dual purpose, acting as both a flavor enhancer and a mold inhibitor.

For centuries, people have used spices to season their foods. Many kinds of commonly used spices exist, including allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, and pepper. These spices come from a group of plants.

Early cultures also realized some spices had properties that helped preserve foods. The storage of food was very important to early civilizations. They did not have the sophisticated techniques we have today to prolong the freshness of foods, which include chemical additives, refrigeration, and vacuum packing.

Microorganism growth can quickly shorten the time in which a food must be consumed. Because many people like to sprinkle cinnamon on their applesauce, they would not mind the addition of a natural, complementary spice like cinnamon being used on their applesauce as a preservative. If your project reveals that cinnamon is a good mold inhibitor, then would it be a good idea to add a little cinnamon to an opened jar of applesauce that is placed in the refrigerator to eat later in the week?

Hypothesize that cinnamon is an effective mold inhibitor for applesauce.

  • Four plastic 6- or 8-ounce clear plastic drinking cups
  • Small jar of applesauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Tablespoon measure
  • ¼ teaspoon measure
  • Felt tip marker
  • Use of a closet or another dark area at room temperature
  • One week of time

Place five level teaspoons of applesauce in each of the four small clear plastic cups. With a felt tip marker, sequentially number each cup: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Cup 1 will be the control cup. Nothing will be added to it.

In cup 2, lightly and evenly sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon on top of the applesauce, completely covering its surface.

In cup 3, add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon to the applesauce and mix thoroughly. This is our "lightly added" mixture.

In cup 4, add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the applesauce and mix thoroughly. This is our "more heavily added" mixture.

Set the cups in a dark area at a normal room temperature. Make sure the cups are out of the way, where they will not be disturbed.

After one week, examine each of the cups. Has mold formed in any of the cups? Are the lightly covered or lightly mixed applesauce cups free of mold?

When your project is completed, dispose of the cups in the garbage. Do not to eat the applesauce from any of the cups.

Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.

Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.

Something More
  1. What is the smallest amount of cinnamon that can be added to the applesauce to make an observable difference in mold growth? We do not want to have to add so much cinnamon that no one would ever want to eat it.
  2. If mold did not grow on the covered applesauce, did it not grow because of the cinnamon or simply because it was covered and kept from exposure to the air? Try covering it with other substances, such as flour, and see if mold forms.
  3. Determine if other popular spices, such as nutmeg, demonstrate mold inhibitor properties.