Table of content A-Z

 

cinnamon

 

Botanical name: Cinnamomum verum/Cinnamomum zeylanicum


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The cinnamon tree is native to Sri Lanka and southern India. The spice has been known in China for just under 5000 years. In ancient Rome cinnamon was also a popular seasoning.

 

In addition to Sri Lanka, the main suppliers today are Indonesia, Madagascar, China and Brazil.

 

Availability

Cinnamon is sold year round in the form of whole sticks or ground.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

The evergreen cinnamon tree is 6-12 m tall and belongs to the Lauraceae family. The leaves of the tree are oblong to oval, entire, and 10-20 cm long. They are reddish at first, then green. On cinnamon plantations the trees are usually cut back to about 3 m.

 

The spice is produced from the bark of young twigs. Several pieces of inner bark are laid on top of each other to roll or are filled with smaller pieces of bark and dried. In the process of drying the cinnamon bark takes on its typical yellow-brown colour. The fine bark rolls together by itself from both sides.

 

There are several methods of production: In some cases the bark is fermented before it is dried, and the number of layers in a rolled cinnamon stick varies. The pieces are cut to a length of about 10 cm.

 

Cinnamon has a pleasant, sweet-spicy, balsam-like aroma with a slight note of clove. It tastes sweet, spicy, sharp and slightly tart. The whole sticks do not develop their aroma until they are broken or cooked in liquid.

 

Ingredients

Cinnamon contains 2-4% essential oils, the main component of which is cinnamaldehyde, accounting for 40-80%. In addition the oils contain eugenol, cinnamic acid and cinnamic alcohol, as well as linalool and safrole.

 

The spice contains mucilages, sugar alcohol, and up to 10% starch.

 

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Thin, light-coloured cinnamon bark is considered to be the best quality. As a rule, the thinner the bark, the finer and better is the aroma.

 

Cinnamon sticks remain aromatic for several years if they are protected from light and kept dry in an airtight container. In contrast, the ground powder loses its aroma quickly.

 

Presumed effect on health

Owing to its aromatic flavour, cinnamon is thought to stimulate the production of digestive juices and is considered to stimulate the appetite and to aid in digestion. It is recommended for spasmodic digestive problems, flatulence and abdominal fullness, usually in the form of a tincture. Prior to such use, however, the possibility of existing stomach and intestinal ulcers should be ruled out. Pregnant women as well should not ingest cinnamon as a tincture and should not use more than the normal amount for flavouring.

 

In folk medicine, cinnamon is also used to treat diarrhoea, menstrual problems, and colds.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Cinnamon can be bought ground or as sticks.

 

In Germany it is used above all as a spice for desserts such as rice pudding, puddings, ice cream and compote. Particularly apples, pears, oranges, plums and bananas are enhanced with cinnamon. Likewise, many sweet baked goods are spiced with cinnamon: cinnamon buns, apples pie, Christmas cookies, and much more.

 

Savoury foods are also flavoured with cinnamon. Sauces, poultry stuffings, red cabbage, vegetable fritters, fish and meat dishes taste good with a pinch of cinnamon. But as with sweet dishes, it should be used sparingly. A piece of bark can be cooked with foods for 10 minutes and then removed before serving.

 

In oriental and Indian cuisine cinnamon is often used to season salty foods, above all stews, meat dishes, curries and vegetables. In South America cinnamon tea is popular, and in Mexico cinnamon is used to add aroma to coffee and chocolate drinks.

 

Chocolate and other sweets are produced industrially using cinnamon oil, and beverages are flavoured with this spice, e.g. liqueur, cola or hot chocolate, punch and mulled wine.

 

Seasoning tip

Cinnamon harmonizes with cloves, vanilla, coriander and nutmeg, but it also goes with ginger, cardamom, caraway and turmeric.

 

 

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