Spice of the Month: Cinnamon by Toby Amidor in Healthy Recipes, January 3, 2012
The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon to embalm the dead, while wealthy Romans used it in love potions and perfumes. Today, cinnamon is a popular spice that can jazz up both sweet and savory dishes.
Cinnamon is the inner bark of the tropical evergreen tree. The bark is peeled from the tree during the rainy season and once dried, it curls into long sticks which are either cut and sold as cinnamon sticks or ground into powder.
The two main varieties of cinnamon are Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and cassia (Cinnamomum cassia). Ceylon is considered “true cinnamon” and is pale in color with a mild, sweet flavor. Cassia cinnamon is also known as Chinese cassia or Indonesian cinnamon, and has a dark red-brown color. It has a more pungent flavor than Ceylon and is somewhat bittersweet.