Cinnamon, a common spice used in many culinary applications, is made by the drying and fermenting of tree barks. Several species of trees produce these barks, resulting in varying types of cinnamon. One such type is cinnamon cassia, but what exactly is that?
History of Cinnamon and Cassia
Cassia is a different spice from cinnamon, but both are related. Most cinnamon seen in the market today is either cassia or a blend of cinnamon and cassia.
Also known as Chinese cinnamon, cinnamon cassia is the most common type of commercial ground cinnamon in the United States and East Asia. Cinnamon cassia comes from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum cassia tree. It is harvested in a similar process as Ceylon cinnamon. Native to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India, Ceylon cinnamon, or “real cinnamon”, comes from the Cinnamomum verum tree.
Telling the Difference
Cinnamon and cassia can be differentiated by the shape of their “curl”. Ceylon cinnamon curls in a spiral form, in the shape of a circle, while cinnamon cassia curls inward from both sides, taking on the appearance of a scroll.
Another key difference is in the color and smell of both spices. Ceylon cinnamon is tan-brown in color with a delicate flavor profile that is mildly sweet. Cassia is reddish-brown in color and has a rougher texture. It also has a stronger and bitter flavor.
Cooking with Cinnamon
If you see cinnamon on the ingredient list for recipes, it usually refers to cinnamon cassia from the supermarket. Cassia is generally recommended for savory dishes, while cinnamon is a better choice for sweet goods like desserts. In the East, cassia is used for pickles, curries, stews, and stir-fries.
Cinnamon cassia can be found in the form of cinnamon sticks (quills) or ground (powdered) cinnamon. Cinnamon sticks are usually recommended for use in marinates and stews as the pieces have a more subtle flavor. On the other hand, ground cinnamon is more versatile and can be used in all types of recipes including drinks like coffee and smoothies. Its flavor is more intense than cinnamon sticks.
Storing Your Cinnamon
Ensuring the best quality for cinnamon requires proper storage. Cinnamon sticks can last up to three years when stored properly in a sealed container away from light and moisture. Ground cinnamon will lose its potency slightly quicker and will expire after about two years. It should be stored in similar conditions as cinnamon sticks, in an airtight jar away from heat and sunlight.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is known for its health properties such as being anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. If you are seeking these health benefits from cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon may be a better choice. Cinnamon cassia, unlike “real cinnamon”, does not carry antioxidant properties. However, cinnamon cassia has warming properties and exhibits calming properties.
At Plant Guru, our Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil exercises all the benefits cinnamon cassia has to offer. The essential oil soothes the mind, and its analgesic properties make it a great fit for ailments such as arthritic conditions and toothaches. It can be purchased at our online store in various sizes and prices start at just $5.95.