What Is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, where the bark is stripped from the tree and then dried in the sun. Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks are used in many recipes; from baked goods, to teas, and even savory dishes. There are many different types of cinnamon including Saigon or Cassia, Korintje, and Ceylon, which all have unique flavor profiles and have different recipes that they shine in.
Where Does Cinnamon Come From?
While all cinnamon comes from the same species of tree, there are several different types of Cinnamomum trees. Each tree produces a slightly different bark that results in different cinnamon flavor profiles. Ceylon cinnamon comes from Cinnamomum verum and originates from Sri Lanka This type of cinnamon is considered to be “true” cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is another variation of cinnamon, from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, and has several different sub-species that originate in Indonesia (Korintje Cinnamon), China (most common Cassia Cinnamon), Vietnam (Saigon Cinnamon), and Malabar (Malabar Cinnamon). Learn more about the difference between each cinnamon type here.
What Does Cinnamon Taste Like?
The flavor of cinnamon comes from the essential oil within the cinnamon bark. Cinnamon has a pungent taste and has a very hot, spicy, and aromatic flavor. The flavor can be described as sweet and earthy with a touch of citrus. The flavor of cinnamon can be compared to the deep, rich flavor of cloves.
Saigon cinnamon has a higher essential oil concentration which creates a more potent, hotter and sweeter flavor. This flavor profile shines best in baked goods, like cinnamon rolls which shines in baked goods like cinnamon rolls or spicy brownies.
Ceylon cinnamon has a more delicate flavor, with floral and citrusy notes. This cinnamon variety pairs well with fruit and jams, along with coffee and tea. Ceylon cinnamon is also commonly found in Mexican cuisine, like this turkey with mole poblano.
How To Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks, cinnamon bark pieces, and ground cinnamon are all the same, just in different forms, however some variations perform better than others in certain recipes. The best ways to use cinnamon sticks are steeped in teas or mulled wine, or infused in syrups and stews, like this braised short rib recipe.
Ground cinnamon is best used in baked goods like cinnamon rolls or apple pie, or mixed with sugar and sprinkled over buttered toast. Ground cinnamon can also be used in savory dishes like chicken or lamb.
Cracked cinnamon is a perfect addition to coffee. Grind up a piece of cinnamon with your coffee beans and brew as normal, you’ll be blown away by the depth and richness the cinnamon adds to your favorite morning beverage.