Organic Whole Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savory foods. The term “cinnamon” also refers to its mid-brown colour. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon“, most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as “cassia” to distinguish them from “true cinnamon”.
Cinnamon is the name for perhaps a dozen species of trees and the commercial spice products that some of them produce. All are members of the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. Only a few of them are grown commercially for spice.
The English word “cinnamon”, attested in English since the 15th century, derives from the Greek κιννάμωμον kinnámōmon (later kínnamon), via Latin and medieval French intermediate forms. The Greek was borrowed from a Phoenician word, which was akin to the related Hebrew qinnamon.
The name “cassia”, first recorded in English around AD 1000, was borrowed via Latin and ultimately derives from Hebrew q’tsīʿāh, a form of the verb qātsaʿ, “to strip off bark”.
Early Modern English also used the names canel and canella, akin to the current names of cinnamon in several other European languages, which are derived from the Latin word cannella, a diminutive of canna, “tube”, from the way the bark curls up as it dries.
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
- Cinnamomum cassia (cassia or Chinese cinnamon, the most common type)
- C. burmannii (Korintje, Padang cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon)
- C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia, or Vietnamese cinnamon)
- C. verum (Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
- C. citriodorum (Malabar cinnamon)
- C. tamale (Indian cinnamon)
Cassia is the strong, spicy flavor associated with cinnamon rolls and other such baked goods, as it handles baking conditions well. Chinese cinnamon is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) thick), as all of the layers of bark are used. Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a lighter brown color, a finer, less dense and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be subtler and more aromatic in flavor than cassia, losing much of its flavor during cooking.
Levels of the blood-thinning agent coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon are much lower than those in cassia.
The barks of the species are easily distinguished when whole, both in macroscopic and microscopic characteristics. Ceylon cinnamon sticks (quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder, whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian cinnamon is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon cinnamon (C. loureiroi) and Chinese cinnamon (C. cassia) are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills. The powdered bark is harder to distinguish, but if it is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible with pure Ceylon cinnamon, but when Chinese cinnamon is present, a deep-blue tint is produced.
Cinnamon bark is used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of cinnamon. It is also used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns, as well as spicy candies, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. In the Middle East, cinnamon is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals, bread-based dishes, such as toast, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. It is also used in Turkish cuisine for both sweet and savory dishes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in enhancing the flavor of Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets.
Use as an alcohol flavorant
Cinnamon is a popular flavoring in numerous alcoholic beverages, such as Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. There are many similar products throughout the world.
Cinnamon brandy concoctions, called “cinnamon liqueur” and made with distilled alcohol, are popular in parts of Greece. In Europe, popular examples of such beverages are Maiwein (white wine with woodruff) and Żubrówka (vodka flavored with bison grass).