Pure Ceylon cinnamon is the only “true” cinnamon. Sure, cinnophiles will argue which is better, true, or cassia, but it’s a mighty tasty debate, if you keep trying dishes from both sides…
Ceylon Cinnamon is the “true” cinnamon. The real deal, Neal.
Most other “cinnamon” products are cassia. It’s a cousin of the cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon bark is difficult to harvest and roll, so it is also some of the most expensive in the world.
Ground, Ceylon cinnamon is far less shelf-stable than others, so keep it stored in either an opaque container or a dark space, like an aromata, to preserve it longer.
Cinnamon is a powerful spice that brings the perception of sweetness without sugar. That is in part due to the coumarin that provides it the aroma.
One reason that ‘true’ cinnamon gets passed over for cassia is because it’s lower in coumarin. Coumarin, eaten regularly, and at larger volumes, is toxic (See health warning, below.) So Ceylon cinnamon is a bit safer, although not entirely so.
It’s grown almost exclusively in Sri Lanka, which was formerly known as Ceylon, hence the name. Most of the last ten-percent originates in the Seychelles, or Madagascar. The trees are huge, rising 10-15 meters, or 30-50 feet high!
The Portuguese discovered cinnamon at Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1500’s, when it was very rare, expensive, and in-demand in Europe. They took over the island kingdom on Kotto, and enslaved the population to produce cinnamon for them for over a century. In 1638, the Kingdom of Kandy made a pact with Dutch traders to overthrow the Portuguese. The Dutch drove out the Portuguese but stayed until their military services were repaid, for the next 150 years. After 1800, cinnamon lost its cachét, and cassia, a cousin, with a stronger, more aromatic taste, and easier to produce, became the more dominant “cinnamon.”
All cinnamon contains coumarin, which provides cinnamon’s aroma, but is mildly toxic to the liver and kidneys. Ceylon cinnamon is very low in coumarin, but should also be consumed in limited amounts.
It is best to restrict your use cinnamon to periodic, and not daily or excessive consumption.
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