Cinnamon is the inner bark of a bushy, evergreen tree of the laurel family, typically cultivated as low bushes to make harvesting easier. Native range Sri Lanka, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Southern India
Major producers Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Seychelles, Reunion
Harvesting This spice is prepared by cutting the slim branches from the cinnamon bushes. Long incisions are made in the branches and the bark peeled off for drying. Harvesting occurs during the rainy season, when the humidity makes the bark peel more easily. The quills of bark are rolled by hand until neat and compact, then gently dried in the shade.
Taste and aroma The bouquet of cinnamon is sweet and fragrant, and its flavour is sweet and warm.
Culinary uses Cinnamon is used in a wide range of food products including drinks. Whole quills of cinnamon can be used for certain dishes but this spice is most commonly used in ground form. Cinnamon goes well with meat, but is most commonly used in cakes, biscuits, and desserts.
Other uses Cinnamon is a stimulant, astringent, and carminative, and is used as an antidote for diarrhea and stomach upsets. Cinnamon oil has germicidal properties and is used in dental preparations. It is also used in the manufacture of perfumes.
Historical uses Cinnamon has long been associated with ancient rituals of sacrifice or pleasure. The ancient Egyptians used this spice for embalming and throughout the Old Testament of the Bible there are references illustrating that this spice was more precious than gold.
Storage This spice is usually stored in whole form. The quills will retain their aroma and flavour for 2-3 years if stored in an airtight container. Ground cinnamon loses its flavour quite quickly, so it is best purchased in small quantities and kept in an airtight container.