Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum/cassia)
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) (cassia being the Chinese cinnamon) is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka, or the spice obtained from the tree's bark.
Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years and then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots. These shoots are then stripped of their bark, which is left to dry.
Only the thin (0.5 mm) inner bark is used; the outer woody portion is removed, leaving meter-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls ("quills") on drying; each dried quill comprises strips from numerous shoots packed together. These quills are then cut into 5–10 cm lengths for sale.
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC, but those who reported that it had come from China had confused it with cinnamon cassia, a related species. Cinnamon was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a deity; a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus.
In Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was used to embalm mummies. From Hellenistic times onward, Ancient Egyptian recipes for kyphi, an aromatic used for burning, included cinnamon and cassia.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of true cinnamon. It is also used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts, such as apple pie, donuts and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs.
Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. Cinnamomum aromaticum (cassia) is a close relative to Ceylon cinnamon (C. verum).
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For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.