Cinnamon – One Of The Oldest Of Spices
Cinnamon is of the family Lauraceae also known as the Laurel family and come from tropical evergreen trees. The trees bear leaves that are a deep red when they are young, which turn pale green then dark glossy green on the top when they mature. The flowers are small and pale yellow with an unpleasant smell. The spice comes from the inner bark of the tree.
The spice is native to Sri Lanka.
As one of the world’s oldest spices there are references of the spice being used by the Egyptians in the embalming process. There is sometimes confusion in the historical record tracing the spice and a related spice cassia.
It is probable that the spice was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The spice is thought to have been imported to China from India around 4000 BCE. The spice spread to other areas of that part of the world through Arab, Phoenician and Roman traders all the way to Africa.
The spice is often sold interchangeably with cassia with the bark being the cheapest to find in powdered form, and powder ground from the quills being the highest grade. Storage of the spice should be in airtight packaging protected from extremes of heat and humidity. Whole quills of the spice and cassia bark will retain its potency for 2-3 years due to their stability as long as they are not exposed to extreme heat.
The powdered form of the spice is used in a variety of baked goods and is included in mixtures of curry powders, garam masala, mixed spices, and other spice blends.
Cassia has a stronger and more pungent scent than cinnamon spice and both have a clovelike aroma.
For additional information about cinnamon click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
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