a bushy evergreen tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae) is native
to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the neighbouring Malabar Coast of India, and
Myanmar (Burma) and also cultivated in South America and the West
Indies for the spice consisting of its dried inner bark. The spice
is light brown in colour and has a delicately fragrant aroma and warm,
sweet flavour. It is lighter in colour and milder in flavour than
the other related species.
was once more valuable than gold and has been associated with ancient
rituals of sacrifice or pleasure. In Egypt, it was sought for embalming
and witchcraft; in medieval Europe for religious rites and as flavouring.
References to cinnamon are plenty throughout the Old Testament in
the Bible. Later it was the most profitable spice in the Dutch East
India Company trade.
is a bushy evergreen tree (6-8 m tall), cultivated as low bushes to
ease the harvesting process. The leaves are long (10-18 cm), leathery
and shining green on upper surface when mature. The flowers have a
fetid, disagreeable smell. The fruit is a dark purple, one-seeded
berry. It prefers shelter and moderate rainfall without extremes in
temperature. Eight to ten lateral branches grow on each bush and after
three years they are harvested. The Sri Lankan farmer harvests his
main crop in the wet season, cutting the shoots close to the ground.
In processing, the shoots are first scraped with a semicircular blade,
then rubbed with a brass rid to loosen the bark, which is split with
a knife and peeled. The peels are telescoped one into another forming
a quill about 107 cm (42 inches) long and filled with trimming of
the same quality bark to maintain the cylindrical shape. After four
or five days of drying, the quills are rolled on a board to tighten
the filling and then placed in subdued sunlight for further drying.
Finally, they are bleached with sulphur dioxide and sorted into grades.
contains from 0.5 to 1 present essential oil, the principal component
of which is cinnamic aldehyde (about 60%). Other components are eugenol,
eugenol acetate, and small amounts of aldehydes, ketones, alcohols,
esters and terpenes. The oil is distilled from fragments for use in
food, liqueur, perfume and drugs. The aldehyde can also be synthesized.
Cinnamon leaf oil is unique in that it contains eugenol as its major
and medicianal use
modern times, cinnamon is used to flavour a variety of foods, from
confections to curries; in Europe and the USA it is especially popular
in bakery goods. The stick cinnamon is added whole to casseroles,
rice dishes, mulled wines and punches, and to syrups for poaching
fruit. The chips are also used in tea infusions or spiced cider blends.
Ground cinnamon is used in baked goods like cakes, pasteries and biscuits.
Cinnamon leaf oil is used in processed meats, condiments and also
in bakery items. Oil from the bark is used in the manufacture of perfume.
The cinnamic aldehyde and/or eugenol present are both antifungal agents.
Cinnamon is a stimulant, astringent and carminative, used as an antidote
for diarrhoea and stomach upsets.