What exactly is cinnamon?

Warm, tantalizing cinnamon is such a joyful scent, evoking memories of freshly baked cinnamon rolls or cookies on a cozy winter’s day. 

Cinnamon, which is sweet and spicy at the same time, is an aromatic, dynamic spice that can be used in sweet recipes such as cookies, cakes (apple pies) and sweet oatmeal, or savory dishes such as pho and pumpkin soup. With baking season in full swing, it’s time to learn more about this ancient spice. 

Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of the cinnamon tree ( Cinnamonowiec  – Cinnamomum  Scheffer), of which there are several types. It can be sold as a dried powder or rolled up slices, called cinnamon sticks.

Types of cinnamon

  • Ceylon Cinnamon : From the Cinnamomum verum tree, native to Sri Lanka, Ceylon cinnamon has a softer texture and mild flavor, great for savory uses.
  • Chinese cinnamon  : Derived from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, it is the most popular cinnamon in the United States and East Asia, where it is grown. Loaded with essential oils, it has a distinct flavor.
  • Saigon Cinnamon:  Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon contains a ton of the complex cinnamaldehyde, which gives it a spicy cinnamon flavor that works well in pho broth.
  • Indonesian Cinnamon : This sweet and mild cinnamon, scientifically known as Cinnamomum burmannii (Burman’s Cinnamon), is a good baking spice.
  • and many others

Of course, there are many varieties of cinnamon trees, but the ones above are the most important and popular.

How does cinnamon affect the body?

Cinnamon has been used medicinally since at least 2800 BC, but despite its extensive historical use, the scientific effects of cinnamon on the body are still largely unknown. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “Human studies do not clearly support the use of cinnamon for any medical conditions.” And while cinnamon is particularly touted as a blood sugar lowering agent for people with type 2 diabetes, research is inconclusive. However, according to some, cinnamon is a good source of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is also believed to be both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and speeds up metabolism.

Some of our favorite cinnamon recipes

Now that we know more about cinnamon, it’s time to use this versatile spice in both sweet and savory recipes.

Pumpkin muffins with cinnamon crumble

Plum tart with cinnamon and almonds

Cinnamon cake with cream and fruit

Pumpkin-cinnamon buns

Cinnamon coffee muffins

Pumpkin with brussels sprouts, feta cheese and pomegranate

Pumpkin soup with roasted garlic

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