Alternative Names: True Cinnamon, Ceylon Cinnamon
The spice known as cinnamon is the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. Branches of the tree are processed by scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. This inner bark is then prised out and curls into rolls (“quills”) on drying. Once dry, the bark is cut into 5–10 cm lengths for sale. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly, although it is most often used in its ground form.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, some kinds of desserts (apple pies, donuts, buns, muffins, etc), and in Middle Eastern savoury dishes of chicken and lamb. Cinnamon is also an essential component in Garam Masala, the spice mixture which gives many South Asian dishes a rich aroma.
Cinnamon should not be confused with Cassia. Ceylon cinnamon has a finer and more crumbly texture. Cassia has a much stronger flavour than cinnamon and is usually harder in texture and is capable of damaging a coffee grinder!