Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of various evergreen trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. At harvest, the bark is stripped off and put in the sun, where it curls into the familiar form called "quills."
Cinnamon in the ground form is used in baked dishes, with fruits, and in confections. Cassia is predominant in the spice blends of the East and Southeast Asia. Cinnamon is used in moles, garam masala, and berbere.
Cinnamomum burmannii is primarily imported from Indonesia and is the most common form of cinnamon in the United States. Once again, Vietnam has become the source for Cinnamomun loureirii, referred to as Saigon cinnamon, considered by many to be the finest cinnamon available. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, grown in Sri Lanka, is actually "true cinnamon," which is more popular in Europe; it is not widely used in the United States due to its unique flavor.
Cinnamon was one of the first known spices. The Romans believed cinnamon's fragrance sacred and burned it at funerals. Because cinnamon was one of the first spices sought in the 15th century European explorations, some say it indirectly led to the discovery of America.
Cinnamon still commands a place on the top ten list, as Americans discover there is much more to this spice than sweet treats. While its flavor and aroma evoke thoughts of hot mulled cider or fresh-from-the oven sticky buns, people are beginning to recognize cinnamon as a key ingredient in a number of savory dishes as well. Cinnamon is a staple in every cuisine worldwide, from North African to Latin American, Indian to Mediterranean, Asian to European. Recently, cinnamon has been receiving a lot of attention for its perceived health benefits with regard to diabetes and lowering cholesterol. Cinnamon consumption has already increased nearly 60 percent during the past two decades, and will continue to grow for years to come.
Flavor & Aroma
Sweet and pungent
Cinnamon is characteristically woody, musty and earthy in flavor and aroma. It is warming to taste. The finer the grind, the more quickly the cinnamon is perceived by the taste buds.
What The Experts Say
"I combine cinnamon with mustard seed, coriander seed, fennel seed, bay leaf and cayenne pepper to create a spiced lobster dish," says Chef Tom Colicchio, of Craft Restaurants, New York and Las Vegas.
"Cinnamon is a great addition to slow-stewed Greek chicken," says Chef Cat Cora.
Perfect Flavor Partners Include:
allspice, black and red pepper, bittersweet chocolate, cardamom, chile peppers, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, and vanilla