Sprinkled on porridge, used in baking or in mulled wine: if December had a smell, it would probably be the warm spiciness of cinnamon. Let’s take a look at Santa’s favourite spice …
Its special flavour is often described as warm, sweet and slightly spicy. In shops cinnamon is usually sold as a ground powder, as whole cinnamon sticks or as cinnamon flower buds.
An essential oil can be extracted from the bark; this oil is often used as an ingredient in liqueurs or as a component in perfumes. (1)
A brief history of cinnamon
The use of cinnamon goes all the back to around 2000 BCE, when it was an enormously popular flavour. Did you know that there were times when cinnamon was worth more than gold? In Egypt and medieval Europe, the spice was used for embalming, in religious rituals or as a flavouring. Such was the demand for cinnamon that it was a central product in the spice trade. (1)
How does cinnamon grow?
The popular spice belongs to the plant species Cinnamomum, which are members of the greater laurel family. The spice is obtained from the bark of the trees, which can grow up to 15 metres high. (1)
The spice is harvested by first scraping the shoots of the tree with a blade and then rubbing with a brass rod to loosen the bark. The bark is split, peeled and dried for about four or five days. (1)
Sweet and savoury
Many people just reach for the next best package of cinnamon in the supermarket. But it’s worth investing a little more thought, as there are many different varieties of this spice. The most widely known is Ceylon cinnamon. This is the typical cinnamon that you can buy anywhere. The Latin name is “Cinnamomum verum”, which means “real cinnamon”. Ceylon cinnamon pairs particularly well with poached fruits, homemade jams, teas and coffee. (2)
In specialist shops you can also find cinnamon from Sumatra or Vietnam, both of which are wonderfully pungent variations.
Cinnamon doesn’t always have to be sweet. Have you ever used cinnamon in a savoury dish? It really adds some delicious drama to a pot of rice, and a sweetly spicy note in soup or pumpkin. (2)
Although cinnamon may be an integral part of the Christmas season, you shouldn’t just keep it as a festive treat. In fact, you can enjoy cinnamon all year round by simply reaching for one of our sublimely tasty Apple Cinnamon bars.
Enjoy every Bite.