Ceylon cinnamon is taken from the bark of an evergreen tree belonging, like the camphor tree, to the laurel family. The Ceylon cinnamon is cultivated in southern India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Java, Indonesia, the West Indies, French Guiana and Brazil. Before the nineteenth century, cinnamon was taken from the wild trees of Sri Lanka.
For 2 centuries, the cinnamon is cultivated and it is cut to multiply the branches. This size, made on the cinnamon trees of five-six years of age, prevents them from growing and keeps them in the state of shrubs. The branches are re-cut every two years. The quality of the bark is improving year by year. When the branches reach about 2 meters long and 2 cm in diameter, the harvest can begin. We must take advantage of the rainy season and the appearance of young leaves to cut the branches, close to the ground.
Indeed, the rise of sap increases the scent of cinnamon and facilitates the debarking of the branch. Depending on the country, cinnamon harvesters carry the branches home or peel them in the forest. In Sri Lanka, the pickers of cinnamon hull branches at home. By a circular incision, then longitudinal, they cut ribbons of bark. They then put the pieces flat to scratch the surface cork and keep only the inner bark, called liber and rich in essential oils. For drying, the liber is placed on racks, in the shade, inside the houses that embalm. The sticks roll on themselves while drying.
They are then sorted and gathered according to size, in bundles or in bundles. The spice is the fragment of bark, dried and rolled on itself, spontaneously or with the help of preparers.
The exceptional flavor of Ceylon cinnamon comes from its content of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol: it is this aromatic mixture that makes it unsurpassable. Depending on the place of production, its quality may vary, depending on the proportion of eugenol. Sometimes it contains camphor, which makes it too violent. Cinnamon from Sri Lanka, its original island, remains the best.
The broken pieces of cinnamon, recovered during the preparation of the sticks, are intended for making cinnamon powders, or they are distilled to extract the essential oil. The essential oil of cinnamon is used in perfumery and by the food industry for the preparation of drinks, desserts, pastries and biscuits. The essence of the leaves is more like cloves than cinnamon, because it contains a lot of eugenol, the basis of the manufacture of artificial Vanilin.
The ancients considered cinnamon as the first of the spices and had hoisted it into a royal gift alongside myrrh, gold and incense. Cinnamon is a very aromatic spice that must be used sparingly, either in sticks (discarded after use) or in powder form. It perfumes sweet preparations and hot drinks but also salty preparations, stewed meat, tajines and curries. The cooks rank it in the category of spices called « sweet ».
The heat and power of its aroma justify that it has always been considered an aphrodisiac. In China, for example, a legend tells how the cinnamon goddess, in love with a young philosopher, uses cinnamon as a love potion.
Nutritional and medicinal values
The essential oil of cinnamon is composed of 65-90% of cinnamic aldehyde, 4 to 12% of phenols (especially eugenol) and the following compounds: camphor, beta-caryophyllene, benzaldehyde, cuminaldehyde, cineol , phellandrene, etc.
It is supposed to stimulate digestion and respiration, be antiseptic (active against the bacillus of typhoid, antispasmodic, deworming, it is sometimes indicated in atony and gastrointestinal spasm, influenzal asthenia (J. Valnet). Some studies indicate that cinnamon is effective in helping diabetics to stabilize their blood sugar but this is contradicted by a study published in January 2008.
Cinnamon is also rich in antioxidants and could play a role in the metabolism of sugars and fats. In addition, the authors note that the consumption of high doses of cinnamon or cinnamon extracts may be toxic, since cinnamon contains coumarin, a substance which in susceptible persons may cause liver damage and coumarin is low in cinnamon from Sri Lanka, unlike cassia (or Chinese cinnamon) which contains two recent studies have highlighted that cinnamon may have antihypertensive properties and may slow gastric emptying
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
- Cinnamomum cassia (cassia or Chinese cinnamon, the most common commercial type)
- C. burmannii (Korintje, Padang cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon)
- C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia, or Vietnamese cinnamon)
- C. verum (Sri Lanka cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- C. citriodorum (Malabar cinnamon)
The English word « cinnamon », attested in English since the fifteenth 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 similar to the related Hebrew קינמון (qinnāmōn).
The name « cassia », first recorded in late Old English from 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, similar 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.
Cinnamon is also…
Je l’appelle Cannelle (Antoine)… Typically the French variety of the 60s!
And the very sad Cinnamon Girl (Lana Del Rey)
Discover the spices while having fun during the Moroccan cooking classes with Faim d’épices (Marrakesh)