WHAT IS IT?
Cinnamon’s bark gives it a spicy, fragrant bite. The “stick” is a peeled piece of the inner bark of one of many cinnamomum trees. The bark is loaded with the essential oil cinnamaldehyde.
Cinnamon is a powerful spice that brings a sweet flavor to the table, without actually containing sugar. In small amounts, it is warming. In larger quantities, the flavor takes on a hot and spicy intensity.
Cinnamon sticks are easy to use whole, as their flavor will quickly spread throughout the dish, especially if allowed the time to steep, or if part of a dish in a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.
Most of the commercial cinnamon is farmed in Asia. Indonesia, China, and Vietnam all produce it. There are distinct variations of flavor based upon where it is grown. Vietnamese, aka “Saigon,” cinnamon is a cinnamon cousin of true cinnamon, although it is marketed as “cinnamon.”
It is used in European countries as a spice for sweet dessert recipes, hot beverages, breads, and more. Across Asia, it is used in a wide variety of sweet, as well as savory, recipes.
- Makes a spicy stir-stick in hot cider, mulled wine, and other hot beverages;
- A staple aromatic seasoning of poultry, and rice, in Moroccan cuisine;
- Popular alcohol flavoring for “fireball” whiskey, and rock n’ rye, among others.
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- An aromatic in my Luau Pork recipe.
- Add to pork bones, with other spices, for my Asian broth;
- A cinnamon stick, soaked in a neutral spirit, along with other herbs/spices, makes for spicy cocktail bitters;
- Add one to a jar of preserved peaches with a 1/2 tsp of bourbon vanilla to pop the palette!
To produce cinnamon, a tree is grown for about two years. The outer bark is shaved off, the inner bark is then removed in large sheets, cut into strips, called quills. The quills are then dried.
The Sri Lankan grading system divides the cinnamon quills into four groups:
- Alba, less than 6 mm (0.24 in) in diameter
- Continental, less than 16 mm (0.63 in) in diameter
- Mexican, less than 19 mm (0.75 in) in diameter
- Hamburg, less than 32 mm (1.3 in) in diameter
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