Native to Sri Lanka and India, Ceylon cinnamon is also known as "true cinnamon", "real cinnamon" or "Mexican cinnamon". Ceylon Cinnamon is so deeply woven into the fabric of the Sri Lanka region that the botanical name of the spice - Cinnamomum Zeylanicum was heavily influenced from the island's earlier name, Ceylon.
Where Ceylon Cinnamon is From
Cassia cinnamon is harvested throughout China and Southeast Asia. Cassia cinnamon is known as Chinese cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon (also referred to as Saigon cinnamon) or Indonesian cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon's subtler flavor is owed to its lower concentration of cinnamon oil (generally 1-2% by weight), while Cassia cinnamon typically comes in at 2-6% by weight.
Our Ceylon cinnamon is harvested in Sri Lanka where the significant rain and tropical climate provide ideal growing conditions. The highest quality Ceylon cinnamon is grown along the coastal belt of the Negombo district, just north of Colombo. Ceylon is also cultivated in Mexico, South America, Seychelles (an island east of Africa and north of Madagascar) and Madagascar.
Before Ceylon trees can produce a high enough quality of cinnamon they must reach at least 3 years of maturity. Ceylon bark is harvested twice a year and this always occurs right after each of the two rainy seasons, as rain-soaked bark is easier to remove from the trees.
The highest quality cinnamon is harvested from the trunk while lower grade cinnamon comes from the branches. The bark of the Ceylon tree is thinner and smoother than that of the cassia.
How Ceylon is Used Around the World
Ceylon is used generously in English, Central American, Mexican, South American and South Asian cooking. Throughout Europe and Mexico, Ceylon is also the preferred cinnamon. In Mexico, it is referred to as "canela".
In Great Britain, Ceylon is found mostly in sweeter dishes like fruitcakes, pastries and stewed fruits. In India and Sri Lanka it is a key spice in fiery curries, aromatic biryanis, garam masalas, pickles and teas. In Latin America it's found in chocolate beverages and in Mexico it plays a starring role in multiple signature moles.
Ceylon cinnamon's flavor is quite different from the better known Cassia cinnamon. Unlike the spicier, bolder Cassia cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon features a deeply complex yet subtle flavor that is warm and sweet with hints of citrus and cloves.
When and Where to Use
Ceylon cinnamon is usually the preferred cinnamon of choice in dishes where there aren’t multiple powerful flavors competing with one another. Ceylon is favored by discriminating cooks in dishes like cinnamon ice cream, custards, dessert syrups, Dutch pears, steamed pudding and stewed rhubarb.
Ceylon cinnamon balances well with vegetables and fruits such as carrots, onions, spinach, apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
Ceylon also partners well with the spices allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and ginger.
If you're a true fan of cinnamon then you may also be interested in our wide selection of cinnamon powder that includes Vietnamese cinnamon (a.k.a. Saigon cinnamon) and Korintje cinnamon.
You'll also find a nice selection of cinnamon sticks - Korintje cinnamon sticks, Ceylon cinnamon sticks and Saigon cinnamon sticks.
Cinnamon has been reported to have some medicinal benefits. Dr. Richard Anderson, the leading scientist at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center has found that some cinnamon compounds may improve the body's ability to process insulin which improves blood glucose levels. These findings hold great promise, especially for those with diabetes.
We look at spices more for what they bring to food more than any potential health benefits.
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