As sun begins to set a little earlier each day and the air turns slightly chilly – that perfect sweater weather! – we are reminded that autumn is here! At HQO, it’s the flavors of fall we love most: pumpkin spice, apple pie, chai, and of course, cinnamon!
Cinnamon, said to be one of the oldest spices, dates back 2,500 years and was regarded so highly among ancient nations that it was seen as a gift fit for the gods. One of cinnamon’s earliest uses was as a perfuming agent in the embalming process for Egyptians. In the middle ages in Europe, the transportation process made it so hard to get that using it was a status symbol. This status symbol and its ability to preserve meats during the winter made it in extremely high demand for centuries. Even Christopher Columbus wrote to Queen Isabella claiming that he found cinnamon in the new world, which he later learned was not real cinnamon but another sweet spice.
Ceylon vs. Cassia
Cinnamon, it is undoubtedly a global commodity. Yet some of the highest quality of cinnamon, Ceylon, comes from its native land, Sri Lanka. Ceylon is what you may hear referred to as “true cinnamon” or “real cinnamon”. Cassia, the cheaper of the two, has a stronger smell and flavor than Ceylon, which is mild and sweet. In fact, most American’s prefer Cassia over Ceylon cinnamon because of the stronger aroma and flavor. Learn more about the differences of Ceylon and Cassia in this cinnamon video.
High Quality Organics sells only non-gmo, organic cinnamon. The harvesting process of organic cinnamon is still performed by traditional workers by cutting down trees and skillfully peeling paper-thin slices of the tree bark. The thin slices are then rolled tightly into quills, which you may more commonly see referred to as “cinnamon sticks” in your household cookbook. After rolling, the quills are then hung and dried in a shaded place, usually from a ceiling creating a faux cinnamon roof lining. Ground cinnamon, although the rarer and highest quality, is usually made from featherings, which are made from the same inner bark as quills but were not sufficiently sized to create the more aesthetically appealing quill.
Non organic cinnamon is typically irradiated, the process of killing bacteria via use of gamma rays. This method is still new to the food industry and therefore still undergoing many tests about the effect it has on food. It is commonly believed to have a negative effect on the Vitamin C, and antioxidant levels in cinnamon.
Cinnamon is packed with health benefits. According to the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, cinnamon could play a role in treating Type 2 diabetes because of its properties that control blood sugar. Research suggests that it also may slow tumor growth and help control cholesterol.
Creative Culinary Applications
The ways you can use cinnamon are infinite, but here are some of my favorites;
Infuse your coffee, rice, and even vodka with cinnamon for a delicious fall version of some pretty common pantry staples.
Fall flavors abound in these Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting bites.
For a great old fashioned with some pizzaz, check out our Ginger Cinnamon Season’ole Fashion.
Beauty Isle Ideas
Besides its delicious plethora of uses in culinary applications and a growing number of scientists studying its health benefits, cinnamon also has many uses in the beauty department. For fuller lips, sprinkle a little cinnamon over a layer of Vaseline on your lips. If you’re having trouble keeping your skin clear, mix a tablespoon of cinnamon with equal parts of honey and nutmeg for a skin clearing facial mask.