Cinnamon, its pungent aroma, and the sweet, mild taste are bliss for any cuisine in the world. This flavorsome spice is crowning our kitchens for a long time and enriching our food with its tempting taste and aroma. It is also known for its antibacterial and medicinal properties. Not a wonder why this spice was so highly prized in ancient time when wars were fought over it.
Here we are presenting all about cinnamon you should know – its history, how cinnamon is harvested and processed as well as where to buy Ceylon cinnamon, the best quality ever.
History of Cinnamon
True cinnamon, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is native to Sri Lanka, i.e., Ceylon. This valuable spice has been mentioned in the Chinese writing dating back to 2800 B.C. Its botanical name has been derived from Arabic term amomon means fragrant spice plant. Cinnamon was also used in embalming process by ancient Egyptians.
For its medicinal properties, the spice was used by medieval physicians to treat coughing and sore throats. In the 17th century, Dutch invaded and seized the island of Ceylon, the world’s largest supplier of cinnamon from Portuguese. However, in 1795, England acquired their victory over Holland and captured Ceylon from the French.
By 1833, the monopoly of cinnamon began to break down as the other countries discovered that it could be easily harvested in areas like Java, Sumatra, Mauritius, Reunion, Guyana, and Borneo. Cinnamon, at present, is also grown in South America, West Indies, and other tropical climates.
Cinnamon trees are a bushy evergreen tree, cultivated as low bushes for easier harvesting. The bushes grow in shaded areas with average rainfalls and without extreme temperature. The soil should not be waterlogged, and optimum temperature should be 27-30⁰ C. 8-10 branches grow on the tree that are harvested around the third year to obtain cinnamon bark.
The bard is harvested twice a year, just after each rainy season when moisture makes the bark peel easily. The cinnamon bark is obtained from stems, 1.2 to 5 cm in diameter.
The cut shoots are collected, bundled dry tied for peeling, which is done with a small, round-edged knife. Cut shoots are longitudinal slit from end to end, in two halves.
Peeled barks are placed one above the other, pressed and packed together. Length of the barks is reduced and piled in small enclosures. To prevent the barks from moisture and aid slight fermentation, they are covered with dried leaves.
The rolled cinnamon slips are bundled and taken to the piping yard. Further, they are kept on a horizontal stick supported on a stand. The outer skin of the slips is carefully scraped off with a curved knife. The final product is then graded as per the thickness and rolled to form pipes by accommodating them over the outer cover of pipes. After drying, they are packed for marketing.
Varieties of Cinnamon
There are majorly two varieties of Cinnamon – Cassia, and Ceylon. Cassia is considered a cheaper version of cinnamon which is brittle and more pungent in the aroma. However, Ceylon is a widely acclaimed version of the finest quality cinnamon which is thin and soft to break. It tastes mild sweet in taste. Cassia contains coumarin in large quantity which is blood thinner and causes health issued if consumed in larger quantity.
Where to buy cinnamon?
If you can identify the difference between cassia and Ceylon, then you can buy it from any general store.
However, if you can’t, then it is advisable to purchase Ceylon cinnamon from a trustworthy online store.
Thus, cinnamon travels a long way to complete its journey from spice plantation to our kitchen. Hope you liked this short guide about cinnamon.