Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia.
Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots. The bark must be processed immediately after harvesting while still wet. Once processed, the bark will dry completely in four to six hours, provided that it is in a well-ventilated and relatively warm environment.
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
Cinnamomum verum (“True cinnamon”, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
C. burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon)
C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon)
C. aromaticum (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
Cinnamon comes in strips of bark rolled one in another.
The pale brown to tan bar strips are generally thin, the spongy outer bark having been scraped off. Cinnamon is very similar to cassia. Cinnamon is also available ground, and can be distinguished from cassia by its lighter colour and much finer powder.
Culinary uses :
Cassia and cinnamon have similar uses, but since it is more delicate, cinnamon is used more in dessert dishes. It is commonly used in cakes and other baked goods, milk and rice puddings, chocolate dishes and fruit desserts, particularly apples and pears. It is used in curries and pilaus and in garam masala.
Medicinal uses :
In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity.
Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion
Warm, aromatic, sweet and fragrant.
Other names :