Cinnamon is a popular spice, sometimes praised for its health benefits – not to mention its deliciousness in apple pie! But what is cinnamon, and where does it come from?
What is Cinnamon Spice?
Cinnamon spice is made from tree bark. Two species of the cinnamon tree are most common, and provide most of the spice sold worldwide. The spice from Cinnamomum cassia has a stronger taste and dark brown colour. This version of the spice is popular in the United States. "True" cinnamon is a common term for the Cinnamomum zeylanicum, a native of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Its spice is sweeter in flavour.
Several of the less common species in this family are: C. burmanni and C. loureirii of Indonesia; C. oliveri from Australia; Cinnamomum of Papua New Guinea; and C. tamala from India.
The Cinnamon tree is a member of the Lauraceae family, which includes the avocado and the California bay leaf, among some 2,000 species in total. Most are woody trees and shrubs. The Cinnamon tree is evergreen.
Nomenclature and taxonomy
The name cinnamon comes through the Greek kinnámōmon from Phoenician.
Cinnamon is the dried bark of various laurel trees in the cinnamomun family. One of the more common trees from which Cinnamon is derived is the cassia. Ground cinnamon is perhaps the most common baking spice. Cinnamon sticks are made from long pieces of bark that are rolled, pressed, and dried.
In India, where it is cultivated on the hills of Kerala, it is called "karuvapatta" or "Elavanga Tholi"(Malayalam) or "dalchini" (Hindi). In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra, it is called kayu manis ("sweet wood") and sometimes cassia vera, the "real" cassia. In Sri Lanka, in Sinhala, cinnamon is known as kurundu or Korunda. In several European languages, the word for cinnamon comes from the Latin word cannella, a diminutive of canna, "cane".
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC, but those who report that it had come from China confuse it with cassia.
It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade, to protect their monopoly as suppliers, cinnamon is native to Malabar Coast of India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh. It is also alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers. It was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's worth of the city's supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in AD 65.
Before the foundation of Cairo, Alexandria was the Mediterranean shipping port of cinnamon. Europeans who knew the Latin writers who were quoting Herodotus knew that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the trading ports of Egypt, but whether from Ethiopia or not was less than clear. When the Sieur de Joinville accompanied his king to Egypt on crusade in 1248, he reported what he had been told—and believed—that cinnamon was fished up in nets at the source of the Nile out at the edge of the world. Through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world. Marco Polo avoided precision on this score. The first mention of the spice growing in Sri Lanka was in Zakariya al-Qazwini's Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad in about 1270.
Indonesian rafts transported cinnamon (known in Indonesia as kayu manis- literally "sweet wood") on a "cinnamon route" directly from the Moluccas to East Africa, where local traders then carried it north to the Roman market.
Arab traders brought the spice via overland trade routes to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was bought by Venetian traders from Italy who held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe. The disruption of this trade by the rise of other Mediterranean powers, such as the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Empire, was one of many factors that led Europeans to search more widely for other routes to Asia.
Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the sixteenth century and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years.
Dutch traders finally dislodged the Portuguese by allying with the inland Kingdom of Kandy. They established a trading post in 1638, took control of the factories by 1640, and expelled all remaining Portuguese by 1658.
The Dutch East India Company continued to overhaul the methods of harvesting in the wild and eventually began to cultivate its own trees.
In 1767, Lord Brown of East India Company established Anjarakkandy Cinnamon Estate near Anjarakkandy in Cannanore (now Kannur) district of Kerala, and this estate became Asia's largest cinnamon estate.
The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796. However, the importance of the monopoly of Ceylon was already declining, as cultivation of the cinnamon tree spread to other areas, the more common cassia bark became more acceptable to consumers, and coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate began to outstrip the popularity of traditional spices.
Cinnamon is known as Dalchini in India , and is vastly used in various industries for its aroma ,flavour .It originates from a tropical evergreen tree that need good rainfall and sunshine for propor growth . Adding to its quality features,it has high medicinal value .With its strong aroma and sweetness and good taste, cinnamon and cinnamon stick is basically the bark of a tree and is used as a spice in Indian food due to its distinct fragrance .Due to its distinct property , it is widely demanded in the international arena and used as spice .It is principally used in cookery as a condiment and flavouring material .Further it is also used in the preparation of chocolate .
Cinnamon is mainly propagated by seeds, although a plantation may plant cuttings as well. A hardy plant, it grows well in loam or sandy loam. The best bark comes from trees in sandy soil, although loam provides more rapid growth and higher yields.
Cinnamon tolerates wet through semi-dry conditions in Sri Lanka. Daytime temperatures should remain in the 20-30 degree Celsius range.
Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots.
The branches harvested this way are processed by scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. The inner bark is then prised out in long rolls. Only the thin (0.5 mm (0.020 in)) inner bark is used; the outer, woody portion is discarded, leaving metre-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls ("quills") on drying. Once dry, the bark is cut into 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) lengths for sale.
The bark must be processed immediately after harvesting while still wet. Once processed, the bark will dry completely in four to six hours, provided that it is in a well-ventilated and relatively warm environment. A less than ideal drying environment encourages the proliferation of pests in the bark, which may then require treatment by fumigation. Bark treated this way is not considered to be of the same premium quality as untreated bark.
Cinnamon has been cultivated from time immemorial in Sri Lanka, and the tree is also grown commercially at Kerala in southern India, Bangladesh, Java, Sumatra, the West Indies, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Egypt. Sri Lanka cinnamon has a very thin, smooth bark with a light-yellowish brown color and a highly fragrant aroma. In recent years in Sri Lanka, mechanical devices have been developed to ensure premium quality and worker safety and health, following considerable research by the Universities in that country led by the University of Ruhuna.
According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2006 Sri Lanka produced 90% of the world's cinnamon, followed by China, India, and Vietnam.According to the FAO, Indonesia produces 40% of the world's Cassia genus of cinnamon.
|Broken cinnamon barks|
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
Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) and Indonesian Cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii) quills
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
Cinnamomum verum ("True cinnamon", Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
C. burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon)
C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon)
C. aromaticum (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
There are several different cultivars of Cinnamomum verum based on the taste of bark:
Type 1 Sinhala: Pani Kurundu , Pat Kurundu or Mapat Kurundu
Type 2 Sinhala: Naga Kurundu
Type 3 Sinhala: Pani Miris Kurundu
Type 4 Sinhala: Weli Kurundu
Type 5 Sinhala: Sewala Kurundu
Type 6 Sinhala: Kahata Kurundu
Type 7 Sinhala: Pieris Kurundu
Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be more aromatic and more subtle in flavor than cassia. Cassia has a much stronger (somewhat harsher) flavour than Ceylon cinnamon, is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2–3 mm (0.079–0.12 in) thick), as all of the layers of bark are used.
Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia. This is contained in much lower dosages in Cinnamomum burmannii due to its low essential oil content. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin.
The barks, when whole, are easily distinguished, and their microscopic characteristics are also quite distinct. Ceylon cinnamon sticks (or quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder, whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian cinnamon is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills. The powdered bark is harder to distinguish, but if it is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch, little effect is visible with pure Ceylon cinnamon, but when Chinese cinnamon is present, a deep-blue tint is produced.
Cinnamon is also sometimes confused with Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala).
Flavor, aroma and taste
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 the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and
scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 60 % of the bark oil) and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and develops resinous compounds. Other chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol (found mostly in the leaves), beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.
Powdered cinnamon spice, therefore, is ground-up dried tree bark. Some people prefer the sweeter taste of zeylonicum over cassia.
Cinnamon is one of the most Cinnamon is one of the most important tree spices of India. Like its cousin
cassia, cinnamon consists of layers of dried pieces of the inner bark of branches and young shoots from
|the evergreen tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum which is obtained when the cork and the cortical parenchyma are removed from the whole bark. The thickness of the bark ranges from 0.2 to 1.0 mm. Pure cinnamon is free from any admixture with cassia, which is considered inferior to the former in appearance, flavor and odor. Cassia is the commonest substitute of cinnamon. While it may be possible morphologically to distinguish one from the other in the whole form, it is difficult to identify them in the powder form.|
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 many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, donuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is more suitable for use in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Shole-zard, Persian . It is also used in sambar powder in Karnataka,India which gives it a rich aroma and tastes unique. It is also used in Turkish cuisine for both sweet and savory dishes.
Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. The compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, that are contained in cinnamon leaf oil, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.
|Benefits of Cinnamon|
Cinnamon leaves are used in the form of powder or decoction. They are stimulant and useful in relieving flatulence and in increasing secretion and discharge of urine. Cinnamon prevents nervous tension, improves complexion and memory. A pinch of cinnamon powder mixed with honey does the trick if taken regularly every night for these purposes.
Cinnamon can be used as a good mouth freshener.
In a 2000 study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Research, it was shown that of the 69 plant species screened, 16 were effective against HIV-1 and 4 were against both HIV-1 and HIV-2. The most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 were respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit).
An oil known as eugenol that comes from the leaves of the cinnamon bush has been shown to have antiviral properties in vitro, specifically against both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Oral and Genital Herpes) viruses according to a study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research.
A 2003 study at National Institutes of Health shows benefits of cinnamon in diet of type 2 diabetics. "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes".
A study conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry suggests that specific plant terpenoids contained within cinnamon have potent antiviral properties.
Pharmacological experiments suggest that the cinnamon-derived dietary factor cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) activates the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells and may therefore represent an experimental chemopreventive dietary factor targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Recent research documents anti-melanoma activity of cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and a mouse model of human melanoma.
Cinnamon bark, a component of the traditional Japanese medicine Mao-to, has been shown in a 2008 study published in the Journal of General Virology to have an antiviral therapeutic effect.
A 2011 study isolated a substance (CEppt) in the cinnamon plant which inhibits development of Alzheimer's in mice. CEppt, an extract of cinnamon bark, seems to treat a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.