Cinnamon is a popular spice that is harvested from the Cinnamomum verum plant. It is a small tree which is a part of the laurel family. Cinnamon sticks are the dried bark from the plant’s base stump or the young shoots. This spice is believed to be one of the oldest, with references dating back to 2500BC – the pharaohs used it as part of the embalming process.
Cinnamon has a musty, woody flavor with a spicy, warming undertone. Contrary to common belief, the spice is not sweet. But it does enhance the sweetness in other foods.
There are two varieties which vary in flavor. True cinnamon (aka Ceylon cinnamon) is grown in Sri Lanka is a subtle flavored variety with citrusy, floral notes. Cassia cinnamon is harvested in Vietnam, Indonesia and China, and has intensified aromatic flavor. Cinnamon has a warm, spicy aroma which most find pleasant.
- chili beans
- braised meats
- sweet potatoes
- all spice
Spice blends: ras el hanout, Jamaican jerk rub, pumpkin pie spice, curry powder, garam masala.
Cinnamon is widely used for sweet dishes but can also enhance the sweet notes in a savory recipe. Scattering ground cinnamon over fruit like grapefruit, figs, or apples makes a healthy, yet delicious dessert. Baked goods like muffins, cakes, breads, and French pain d’epices benefit from cinnamon.
In savory food, cinnamon helps bring out the sweet flavors in other ingredients. Beef pho soup, tomato sauce, or beef stew gain added warmth with cinnamon added.
To effectively release the flavors, cinnamon quills should be added early in the cook to allow the flavors to be released. Cooking with fat, steam, or alcohol will help to draw out the cinnamaldehyde from the woody exterior.
How much? Use 1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon in baking. For meat and vegetables, use one quill.
To replace cinnamon in a recipe use allspice or nutmeg. For every teaspoon of cinnamon, use a half teaspoon of the alternative. The replacements won’t perfectly mimic the flavor, but they won’t taste out of place in most recipes. Use half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to replace a 3” stick.
Store cinnamon sticks in an airtight container or jar in a dark, dry place for 2-3 years. Ground cinnamon will last around one year before losing its quality.
|Flavor compound||Caryophyllene, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, linalool, myrcene|
|Botanical name||Cinnamomum verum|
|Parts used||Dried bark, tender shoots|
|Other names||Baker’s cinnamon, false cinnamon, Indian bay leaves, tejpat|