Would the "Real" Cinnamon Please Stand Up?
Cinnamon. It's used in so many things, from cooking and baking to potpourri and moth repellent! (Yes, seriously.) In the UK, studies have even found that consistent cinnamon in a diet can help with diabetes and blood pressure complications. Other studies have found that cinnamon can be used to clear cognitive function, reduce cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss.
The tests I am most familiar with are conducted in my kitchen, however, and they taste delicious. So, no matter what YOU use cinnamon for, there are plenty of cinnamon varieties out there to widen your horizons! And that brings me to my question...
Would the real cinnamon please stand up? With so many cinnamon varieties in the marketplace, how do we know what “real” cinnamon is and what the differences are between each cinnamon variety? We’ve broken out the three most common types of cinnamon and highlighted their features so you don’t have to wonder anymore!
Ceylon cinnamon is considered “true” cinnamon. The variety is grown primarily in Sri Lanka and unlike most grocery store cinnamon is much lower in coumarin. Coumarin has been linked to liver damage in excessive amounts; Ceylon cinnamon has been tested and has been shown to be considerably lower in coumarin than cassia blends. Ceylon is lighter in color, has a less pungent flavor, and tends to have a light and bright citrus flavor profile. It is the perfect cinnamon to use in delicately flavored desserts and savory dishes.
Kortintje cinnamon is considered a cassia cinnamon. Grown primarily in Indonesia, it is one of the most imported cinnamons to the United States. The flavor is spicy and pungent due to its high volatile oil content of 7-8%. This cinnamon is primarily used in commercial applications due to its bold but smooth flavor and relatively low cost. We carry ground, bark, and whole stick form of this cinnamon. Bark and cinnamon sticks are perfect for infusing flavor into both sweet and savory dishes and hot drinks. Cinnamon bark is also useful in potpourris and sachets.
Vietnamese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon is closely related to Chinese cinnamon. It is darker in color and has the most pungent flavor of all the cinnamon varieties. The very high oil content (1-5%) and 25% in cinnamaldehyde, which is its essential oil, give the cinnamon a very spicy and aromatic flavor. Each time I open up Vietnamese cinnamon I instantly think of red-hot candies. This cinnamon is amazingly fragrant. Perfect for dishes where you want the cinnamon to be the star!
As you can see there is a great selection of cinnamon both ground and whole available in the marketplace. Each cinnamon has a distinct flavor profile, can be used in many different applications and have varied degrees of health benefits.
What are your favorite recipes with cinnamon? Submit your favorites in the comments below and we will feature them leading up to the holidays!