Cinnamon ( // sin-ə-mən) is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, and its origin was a mystery to Europeans until the sixteenth century.
Nomenclature and taxonomy
In India, where it is cultivated in the hill ranges of Kerala, it is called "karuvapatta" or "dalchini". In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra, it is called kayu manis ("sweet wood") and sometimes cassia vera, the "real" cassia. In Sri Lanka, in the original Sinhala, cinnamon is known as kurundu (කුරුඳු), recorded in English in the 17th century as Korunda. In Arabic, it is called qerfa (قرفة). In Swahili it is called "mdalasini". In several European languages, the word for cinnamon comes from the Latin word cannella, a diminutive of canna, "cane". In Persian it is called "dar-chin" meaning the Chinese tree(dar=tree, chin=China) (دارچین).
The Hebrew Bible makes specific mention of the spice many times: first when Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon (Hebrew: קִנָּמוֹן, qinnāmôn) and cassia in the holy anointing oil; in Proverbs where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon; and in Song of Solomon, a song describing the beauty of his beloved, cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon. Cinnamon was a component of the Ketoret which is used when referring to the consecrated incense described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. It was offered on the specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. The ketoret was an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem.
It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade, to protect their monopoly as suppliers, cinnamon is native to Malabar Coast of India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh. It is also alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers. It was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's worth of the city's supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in AD 65.
Before the foundation of Cairo, Alexandria was the Mediterranean shipping port of cinnamon. Europeans who knew the Latin writers who were quoting Herodotus knew that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the trading ports of Egypt, but whether from Ethiopia or not was less than clear. When the Sieur de Joinville accompanied his king to Egypt on crusade in 1248, he reported what he had been told—and believed—that cinnamon was fished up in nets at the source of the Nile out at the edge of the world. Through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world. Marco Polo avoided precision on this score. In Herodotus and other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon: giant Cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs employed a trick to obtain the sticks. This story was current as late as 1310 in Byzantium, although in the first century, Pliny the Elder had written that the traders had made this up in order to charge more. The first mention of the spice growing in Sri Lanka was in Zakariya al-Qazwini's Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad ("Monument of Places and History of God's Bondsmen") in about 1270. This was followed shortly thereafter by John of Montecorvino, in a letter of about 1292.
Indonesian rafts transported cinnamon (known in Indonesia as kayu manis- literally "sweet wood") on a "cinnamon route" directly from the Moluccas to East Africa, where local traders then carried it north to the Roman market. See also Rhapta.
Arab traders brought the spice via overland trade routes to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was bought by Venetian traders from Italy who held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe. The disruption of this trade by the rise of other Mediterranean powers, such as the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Empire, was one of many factors that led Europeans to search more widely for other routes to Asia.
Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the sixteenth century and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years.
Dutch traders finally dislodged the Portuguese by allying with the inland Kingdom of Kandy. They established a trading post in 1638, took control of the factories by 1640, and expelled all remaining Portuguese by 1658. "The shores of the island are full of it", a Dutch captain reported, "and it is the best in all the Orient: when one is downwind of the island, one can still smell cinnamon eight leagues out to sea." (Braudel 1984, p. 215)
The Dutch East India Company continued to overhaul the methods of harvesting in the wild and eventually began to cultivate its own trees.
In 1767, Lord Brown of East India Company established Anjarakkandy Cinnamon Estate near Anjarakkandy in Cannanore (now Kannur) district of Kerala, and this estate became Asia's largest cinnamon estate.
The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796. However, the importance of the monopoly of Ceylon was already declining, as cultivation of the cinnamon tree spread to other areas, the more common cassia bark became more acceptable to consumers, and coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate began to outstrip the popularity of traditional spices.
Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots.
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 prised out in long rolls. Only the thin (0.5 mm (0.020 in)) 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 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 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 that 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.
Cinnamon has been cultivated from time immemorial in Sri Lanka, and the tree is also grown commercially at Kerala in southern India, Bangladesh, Java, Sumatra, the West Indies, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Egypt. Sri Lanka cinnamon has a very thin, smooth bark with a light-yellowish brown color and a highly fragrant aroma. In recent years in Sri Lanka, mechanical devices have been developed to ensure premium quality and worker safety and health, following considerable research by the Universities in that country led by the University of Ruhuna.
According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2006 Sri Lanka produced 90% of the world's cinnamon, followed by China, India, and Vietnam. According to the FAO, Indonesia produces 40% of the world's Cassia genus of cinnamon.
The Sri Lankan grading system divides the cinnamon quills into four groups:
- Alba, less than 6 mm (0.24 in) in diameter
- Continental, less than 16 mm (0.63 in) in diameter
- Mexican, less than 19 mm (0.75 in) in diameter
- Hamburg, less than 32 mm (1.3 in) in diameter
These groups are further divided into specific grades. For example, Mexican is divided into M00 000 special, M000000, and M0000, depending on quill diameter and number of quills per kg.
Any pieces of bark less than 106 mm (4.2 in) long are categorized as quillings. Featherings are the inner bark of twigs and twisted shoots. Chips are trimmings of quills, outer and inner bark that cannot be separated, or the bark of small twigs.
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
- Cinnamomum verum ("True cinnamon", Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
- C. burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon)
- C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon)
- C. aromaticum (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
There are several different cultivars of Cinnamomum verum based on the taste of bark:
- Type 1 Sinhala: Pani Kurundu (පැණි කුරුඳු), Pat Kurundu (පත් කුරුඳු) or Mapat Kurundu (මාපත් කුරුඳු)
- Type 2 Sinhala: Naga Kurundu (නාග කුරුඳු)
- Type 3 Sinhala: Pani Miris Kurundu (පැණි මිරිස් කුරුඳු)
- Type 4 Sinhala: Weli Kurundu (වැලි කුරුඳු)
- Type 5 Sinhala: Sewala Kurundu (සෙවල කුරුඳු)
- Type 6 Sinhala: Kahata Kurundu (කහට කුරුඳු)
- Type 7 Sinhala: Pieris Kurundu (පීරිස් කුරුඳු)
Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be less strong than cassia. Cassia has a much stronger (somewhat harsher) flavour than Ceylon cinnamon, is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2–3 mm (0.079–0.12 in) thick), as all of the layers of bark are used.
Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia. This is contained in much lower dosages in Cinnamomum burmannii due to its low essential oil content. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin.
The barks, when whole, are easily distinguished, and their microscopic characteristics are also quite distinct. Ceylon cinnamon sticks (or quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder, whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian cinnamon is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills. The powdered bark is harder to distinguish, but if it is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible with pure Ceylon cinnamon, but when Chinese cinnamon is present, a deep-blue tint is produced.
Cinnamon is also sometimes confused with Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala).
Flavor, aroma and taste
Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 60 % of the bark oil) and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and develops 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 bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of true cinnamon. It is also used in many desserts recipes, such as apple pie, donuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is more suitable for use in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Shole-zard, Persian شله زرد). It is also used in sambar powder or BisiBelebath powder in Karnataka, which gives it a rich aroma and tastes unique.
Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. The compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, that are contained in cinnamon leaf oil, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.
In a 2000 study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Research, it was shown that of the 69 plant species screened, 16 were effective against HIV-1 and 4 were against both HIV-1 and HIV-2. The most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 were respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit).
An oil known as eugenol that comes from the leaves of the cinnamon bush has been shown to have antiviral properties in vitro, specifically against both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Oral and Genital Herpes) viruses according to a study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research.
Pharmacological experiments suggest that the cinnamon-derived dietary factor cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) activates the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells and may therefore represent an experimental chemopreventive dietary factor targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Recent research documents anti-melanoma activity of cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and a mouse model of human melanoma.
A 2011 study isolated a substance (CEppt) in the cinnamon plant which inhibits development of Alzheimer's in mice. CEppt, an extract of cinnamon bark, seems to treat a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
- ^ "Cassia, also known as cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon is a tree which has bark similar to that of cinnamon but with a rather pungent odour," remarks Maguelonne Toussant-Samat, Anthea Bell, tr. The History of Food, revised ed. 2009, p.437.
- ^ The Epicentre, Encyclopedia of Spices. "Cinnamon". http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/cinnamon.html. Retrieved 2008-07-15
- ^ Knox, Robert. "An Historical Relation Of The Island Ceylon". http://www.ihaystack.com/authors/k/robert_knox/00014346_an_historical_relation_of_the_island_ceylon_in_the_e/00014346_english_iso88591_p004.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-15
- ^ "The Indians obtained cassia from China" (Toussaint-Samat 2009, p. 437).
- ^ Exodus 30:22-25
- ^ Proverbs 7:17
- ^ Song of Solomon 4:11-14
- ^ Toussaint-Samat 2009, p. 437
- ^ "Cinnamon". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2008. "(species Cinnamomum zeylanicum), bushy evergreen tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae) native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the neighboring 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 bark is widely used as a spice due to its distinct odor."
- ^ Toussaint-Samat 2009, p. 437f.
- ^ Toussaint-Samat 2009, p. 438 discusses cinnamon's hidden origins and Joinville's report.
- ^ Tennent, Sir James Emerson. "Account of the Island of Ceylon". http://lakdiva.org/tennent/v1_p5_c02.html#pg598. Retrieved 2008-07-15 [dead link]
- ^ Yule, Col. Henry. "Cathay and the Way Thither". http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/toyobunko/III-2-F-b-2/V-1/page/0487.html.en. Retrieved 2008-07-15
- ^ "The life of spice; cloves, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon | UNESCO Courier | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. 1984. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_1984_June/ai_3289703. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Independent Online. "News - Discovery: Sailing the Cinnamon Route (Page 1 of 2)". Iol.co.za. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=588&art_id=iol1078376795319P146&set_id=1. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Gray, E. W.; Miller, J. I. (1970). "The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire 29 B.C.-A.D. 641". The Journal of Roman Studies 60: 222–224. doi:10.2307/299440. JSTOR 299440.
- ^ "Search - Global Edition - The New York Times". International Herald Tribune. 2009-03-29. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/13/bloomberg/sxcin.php. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Culinary Herbs and Spices, The Seasoning and Spice Association. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- ^ "How to identify Real Cinnamon from Cassia". Ceylon-cinnamon.com. http://www.ceylon-cinnamon.com/Identify-Cinnamon.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Harris, Emily. German Christmas Cookies Pose Health Danger. National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6672644. Retrieved 2007-05-01
- ^ "Espoo daycare centre bans cinnamon as "moderately toxic to liver"". http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Espoo+daycare+centre+bans+cinnamon+as+moderately+toxic+to+liver/1135249842234. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- ^ http://www.webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/6AC.html
- ^ "Iodine test for cassia". http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cassia31.html.
- ^ The Elements of materia medica and therapeutics, Volume 2, page 390, By Jonathan Pereira 1854
- ^ "Trade and Sustainable Forest Management -Impacts and Interactions". Fao.org. 2003-09-26. http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/ae017e/ae017e12.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Beck, Leslie. "Cinnamon — December 2006's Featured Food". http://www.lesliebeck.com/ingredient_index.php?featured_food=80. Retrieved 2007-05-01
- ^ a b "Cinnamon Oil Kills Mosquitoes". www.sciencedaily.com. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040716081706.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- ^ Premanathan, M; Rajendran, S; Ramanathan, T; Kathiresan, K; Nakashima, H; Yamamoto, N (2000). "A survey of some Indian medicinal plants for anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity". The Indian journal of medical research 112: 73–7. PMID 11094851.
- ^ Benencia, F.; Courrèges, M.C. (2000). "In vitro andin vivo activity of eugenol on human herpesvirus". Phytotherapy Research 14 (7): 495–500. doi:10.1002/1099-1573(200011)14:7<495::AID-PTR650>3.0.CO;2-8. PMID 11054837.
- ^ Wen, Chih-Chun; Kuo, Yueh-Hsiung; Jan, Jia-Tsrong; Liang, Po-Huang; Wang, Sheng-Yang; Liu, Hong-Gi; Lee, Ching-Kuo; Chang, Shang-Tzen et al. (2007). "Specific Plant Terpenoids and Lignoids Possess Potent Antiviral Activities against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus". Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 50 (17): 4087–95. doi:10.1021/jm070295s. PMID 17663539.
- ^ Wondrak, Georg Thomas; Villeneuve, Nicole F.; Lamore, Sarah D.; Bause, Alexandra S.; Jiang, Tao; Zhang, Donna D. (2010). "The Cinnamon-Derived Dietary Factor Cinnamic Aldehyde Activates the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response in Human Epithelial Colon Cells". Molecules 15 (5): 3338–55. doi:10.3390/molecules15053338. PMC 3101712. PMID 20657484. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=3101712.
- ^ Cabello, Christopher M.; Bair, Warner B.; Lamore, Sarah D.; Ley, Stephanie; Bause, Alexandra S.; Azimian, Sara; Wondrak, Georg T. (2009). "The cinnamon-derived Michael acceptor cinnamic aldehyde impairs melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth". Free Radical Biology and Medicine 46 (2): 220–31. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.10.025. PMC 2650023. PMID 19000754. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2650023.
- ^ Orihara, Y.; Hamamoto, H.; Kasuga, H.; Shimada, T.; Kawaguchi, Y.; Sekimizu, K. (2008). "A silkworm baculovirus model for assessing the therapeutic effects of antiviral compounds: Characterization and application to the isolation of antivirals from traditional medicines". Journal of General Virology 89 (Pt 1): 188–94. doi:10.1099/vir.0.83208-0. PMID 18089742.
- ^ Even, Dan. "Cinnamomum.—Cinnamon.". http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/tau-finds-cinnamon-could-combat-alzheimer-s-1.366678. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- ^ Frydman-Marom, Anat; Levin, Aviad; Farfara, Dorit; Benromano, Tali; Scherzer-Attali, Roni; Peled, Sivan; Vassar, Robert; Segal, Daniel et al. (2011). Dawson, Ted. ed. "Orally Administrated Cinnamon Extract Reduces β-Amyloid Oligomerization and Corrects Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease Animal Models". PLoS ONE 6 (1): e16564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016564. PMC 3030596. PMID 21305046. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=3030596.
- Braudel, Fernand (1984). The Perspective of the World, Vol III of Civilization and Capitalism.
- Corn, Charles (1998). The Scents of Eden: A Narrative of the Spice Trade. New York: Kodansha International.
- "Cinnamon Extracts Boost Insulin Sensitivity". Agricultural Research magazine. July 2000. http://arsserv0.tamu.edu/is/ar/archive/jul00/cinn0700.pdf.
- Archer, Alan W. (1988). "Determination of cinnamaldehyde, coumarin and cinnamyl alcohol in cinnamon and cassia by high-performance liquid chromatography". Journal of Chromatography A 447: 272. doi:10.1016/0021-9673(88)90035-0.
- Department of Export Agriculture, Sri Lanka
- Weerasinghe K D N, Liyanage M D S, Silva M A T D; "Present and future trends of cinnamon industry in Sri Lanka", discussion paper, University of Ruhunu, Sri Lanka. (2006)[verification needed]
- Weerasinghe K D N, "A way forward for poverty alleviation for socially deprived areas in the cinnamon industry", monograph, University of Ruhunu, Sri Lanka.[verification needed]
- Pushpitha, N. P. G. (2006). Design and construction of appropriate cinnamon processing device to intensify the cinnamon peeling industry. http://isuru.lib.ruh.ac.lk/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?bib=57802.
- Wijesekera R O B, Ponnuchamy S, Jayewardene A L, "Cinnamon" (1975) monograph published by CISIR, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Antifungal Properties of Cinnamon Essential oil
- BBC News - In pictures: Sri Lanka's spice of life
- A variety of information on Sri Lankan Cinnamon
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.