Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum, that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be "true cinnamon".Most of the cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as "cassia" to distinguish them from "true cinnamon".
Cinnamon is the name for perhaps a dozen species of trees and the commercial spice products that some of them produce. All are members of the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. Only a few of them are grown commercially for spice. The name "cinnamon" comes through the Greek "kinnamomon", possibly from Phoenician. In Hindi it is called "dal chini". In Urdu it is called "dar chini". In Sri Lanka, in Sinhala, cinnamon is known as "kurundu" and was recorded in English in the 17th century as "korunda". It is called "karuva" in Malayalam and Tamil. Another Tamil variant is "Pattai". In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra is called "kayu manis" ("sweet wood"). In several European languages, the word for cinnamon comes from the Latin word "cannella", a diminutive of canna, "tube", from the way it curls up as it dries.
The branches harvested this way are processed by scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark.The inner bark is then pried out in long rolls. Only 0.5 mm (0.020 in) of the inner bark is used. The outer woody portion is discarded leaving metre-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls ("quills") on drying. Once dry the bark is cut into 5- to 10-cm (2- to 4-in) lengths for sale.
The bark must be processed immediately after harvesting while still wet. Once processed the bark will dry completely in four to six hours provided it is in a well-ventilated and relatively warm environment. A less than ideal drying environment encourages the proliferation of pests in the bark, which may then require treatment by fumigation. Bark treated this way is not considered to be of the same premium quality as untreated bark.
The flavour of cinnamon is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition.
This essential oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark macerating it in sea water and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow colour with the characteristic odour of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 90% of the essential oil from the bark) and by reaction with oxygen. As it ages it darkens in colour and forms resinous compounds.
Other chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol (found mostly in the leaves), beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.
Cinnamon has a much broader application in flavours than fragrances. However recently a trend of Cinnamon (Cassia Like) odours for Candles has emerged. But the most important thing about Cinnamon is that it reminds everybody of Christmas Cinnamon Flavoured Cookies.
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