Cinnamon is a spice used for sweet and savory dishes. It is obtained by grounding the inner bark of a Cinnamomum tree. Cinnamon has been around since antiquity when cinnamon was highly valued and fit to be a gift to kings and gods; in fact, there is proof of cinnamon offering at the temple of Apollo at Miletus. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC.
- Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is the primary source of cinnamon’s aroma and flavor. According to the book Bioactive Components, Diet and Medical Treatment in Cancer Prevention, “cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the spicy flavor, aroma, and fragrance of cinnamon.”
- Cinnamon gets its name from the Ancient Greek kinnámōmon, and later kínnamon.
- Spices are derived from different parts of a plant or tree besides leaves (leaves are used to make herbs). For example, cloves come from flower buds while ginger is a root. Peppercorns come from berries and nigella is a seed like cardamom (which is also made from the pods as well). Cumin is the fruit of the plant while saffron is made from the plant’s stigmas. As for cinnamon, it is derived from the tree’s bark.
- Cinnamon used to go by the name canel as well as canella.
Cinnamon Buying Guide
- You can buy ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick in the spice aisle of supermarkets and groceries. You can also try specialty stores, like spice shops.
- When you go to the store looking for cinnamon, it is important that you know what you want to buy: do you need a cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon? You use ground cinnamon and or cinnamon stick to flavor the dish you are cooking, but there are situations that require ground cinnamon, and situations wherein a cinnamon stick is better. For example, if you want to add a cinnamon flavor to baked bread, the best way to do it is to sprinkle ground cinnamon. However, if you want to make a cinnamon-flavored vodka, it is best to put a cinnamon stick and infuse the liquid with cinnamon flavor. Putting ground cinnamon on vodka means you will feel the ground cinnamon in your mouth when you drink it (because ground cinnamon will not melt on vodka) and it will make for an unpleasant drinking experience.
- If you can choose between a Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon or true cinnamon, pick true cinnamon because Cassia contains significant amounts of coumarin which can be harmful in large doses. Ceylon or true cinnamon, on the other hand, has low amounts of coumarin.
Cinnamon Production & Farming in Texas
Texas, and the US in general, are not known for large commercial production of cinnamon. In North America, cinnamon found in stores is usually imported from major cinnamon-producing countries like Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
But can you grow a cinnamon tree in Texas? Yes. A cinnamon tree can grow in USDA zones 8a through 10. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
Cinnamon is an ingredient used in making organic pest-control sprays. By itself, cinnamon is considered a natural insect repellant.
This does not mean that the cinnamon tree is insect-free. A cinnamon tree is a target of many different kinds of insects. It is also vulnerable to diseases if proper care and management are not taken.
Because of these concerns, cinnamon trees are sprayed with insecticides, pesticides, and other chemicals that can help keep the tree healthy.
- Cinnamon butterfly – Requires the use of foliar insecticide to control heavy infestations.
- Leaf spot and dieback – Requires the use of a 1% Bordeaux mixture (a mixture of copper(II) sulfate or CuSO4, and quicklime or CaO).
- Leafminer – Use spinosad against leafminers.
- Mites – Requires the use of insecticide sprays containing permethrin or bifenthrin.
- Root knot nematode – Purpureocillium lilacinum, a nematode egg-pathogenic fungus, is a biological control agent for the management of plant-parasitic nematodes.
- Seedling blight – Requires the use of a 1% Bordeaux mixture.
- Stripe canker – Requires the use of systemic fungicide.
Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks sold today come from two kinds of cinnamon trees.
True cinnamon – Cinnamomum verum – is native to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. Cinnamomum cassia, or simply known as Cassia, is native to China.
Saigon cinnamon, another cinnamon, is native to Vietnam.
Indonesia and China are the two biggest producers of cinnamon in the world.
Ground cinnamon is sold in plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or glass bottles with a lid that serve the purpose of storage as well as a dispenser. The packaging includes cap shrink wrap for product safety and a label to make sure consumers are provided with the information they need, like ingredients, nutritional information, batch number, location of production and manufacturing, etc. You can also find ground cinnamon sold in plastic refill packs, single-use packets, or pouches, as well as in a resealable, moisture-proof aluminum-lined stand-up plastic or paper bag with a valve zipper.
Cinnamon roll is just one in the long list of the many different common and popular cinnamon-flavored foods. Cinnamon is a must for a great French toast and a common churros flavor is cinnamon. Cinnamon is often present in any apple-based dessert because of how the two complement each other. Cinnamon is also a great spice to use for any pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato-based dish because they go well together.
Store ground cinnamon in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry is ideal. If you have a spice rack or spice cabinet, keep your ground cinnamon there. Put it in a container with a lid and always keep the lid closed.
When stored properly, ground cinnamon will remain in excellent quality for six months, while cinnamon sticks can stay in good condition for 2 years.
Cinnamon is used in both sweet and savory foods. The two common uses of cinnamon are (1) as an aromatic condiment and (2) as a flavoring additive.
Use ground cinnamon when making pancakes, oatmeals, muffins, cakes, cookies, donuts, soups, roasted chicken, pork chops, pasta, and more. You can also use ground cinnamon to make dressing for salads and to make spice blends.
Use cinnamon sticks where you can extract the flavor by steeping the cinnamon stick. Mulled wine, flavored alcohol, hot chocolate drink, stews, and curries, can all have cinnamon flavor using a cinnamon stick.
Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon helps improve metabolism, helps improve heart health, lowers blood sugar levels (which can help people who are managing diabetes), help keep away neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, and helps fight bacterial and fungal infections.