Organic Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon sticks, or Cinnamomum burmannii, come from the bark of Cinnamon trees.
Organic Cinnamon Sticks have a 0.9% to 7% essential oil content, which is mostly made up of cinnamic aldehyde.
Cinnamon is also called "kerfe" in Arabic, "you qui" in Mandarin, "cannelle de Chine" or "Saigon" in French, "Kassie" in German, "daalacheenee" in Hindi, "kashia keihi" in Japanese, "canela de China" in Portuguese, "korichnoje derevo" in Russian, and "canela de Chine" in Spanish.
One of the first mentions of cinnamon was in the Old Testament as an ingredient in anointing oil. The ancient art of embalming practiced by Egyptians incorporated Cinnamon into the ritual. It was mostly used for perfuming, as the embalming process can sometimes be a smelly process. In ancient times, this spice was often considered more valuable than both silver and gold.
Arabic traders controlled much of the flow of the cinnamon trade, crafting outlandish stories about wild monsters that would guard the cinnamon. These stories kept curious buyers in the cinnamon trade- but not curious enough that they would go out and look for cinnamon themselves. This advantage led to the Arabic traders demanding high prices for the coveted spice- eventually catapulting it into a status symbol for the wealthiest customers. This practice of trading cinnamon and the elitist status of the spice was upheld until the early 1500s when the Queen of Spain, Isabella, commissioned explorers to go out and find spices to bring back to Spain, going over the heads of other traders. She wanted more reasonable pricing and a stake in the spice game. Some of these explorers included Christopher Columbus and Gonzalo Pizarro, who were determined to find routes through the sea straight to the best spices available.
Then, in the late 1510s, explorers from Portugal landed on the Ceylon Island and discovered the coveted cinnamon was grown there. The Portuguese quickly seized control of the cinnamon trade, arranging deals to forward the spice to their homeland. Until the year 1638, when the Dutch overthrew their control, the Portuguese were in full control of the cinnamon supply. One Dutch captain was quoted as saying that "the shores of [Ceylon] island are full of [cinnamon] and it is the best in all the Orient." The same captain said that he could smell the scent of cinnamon wafting off of the island from eight leagues, or almost 30 miles, out to sea. Over time, other types of cinnamon were discovered and grown all over the world, so the supply became more swollen and the demand decreased. By the time the British took over some of the trade from the Dutch, cinnamon was no longer a status symbol for only the elite.
Both the trunk and the branches are used to make cinnamon sticks, but the bark that comes from the trunk is considered to be the higher quality cinnamon. Cinnamon trees produce edible bark with good flavor after just three to five years of growth. Stems located close the ground are cut in a process called copping. The stems have to be processed while the inner bark is still wet, or else the cinnamon will not be separated and rolled properly. Processing involves scraping the outer bark and then beating the stems with hammers until the inner bark is loosened and then pulled off in long rolls. The bark is left to dry for a few hours, in some cases up to six, and is cut into smaller pieces for sale and distribution. The harvesting process takes place twice a year, during the rainy seasons. After about a year, the spots that were previously harvested will sprout new growth that can be harvested from again in the future. Cinnamon trees are susceptible to pests, but are not usually the kind of tree to succumb to illnesses. They prefer dryer, well-drained soils, but can survive in some areas with more water retention.
Our Organic Cinnamon Sticks come from Indonesia.
There are several types of cinnamon, with two types being the most familiar to the American cook. Cassia cinnamon, or the type of cinnamon that our Organic Cinnamon Sticks are, is thick with a very firm bark. This is the type of cinnamon that we Americans associate with the holidays, and it is the more flavorful and aromatic of the two main cinnamon types. Ceylon cinnamon on the other hand has a much softer, thinner bark that flakes easily and is not good for stirring of any kind. Ceylon cinnamon is much more popular in European countries and is almost always purchased in stick form to be ground down by the home or professional chef. Ceylon cinnamon is usually described as a less flavorful cinnamon, but that's because it is used more for a touch of flavor than as a starring flavor. For a lead singer, you want a ground cassia cinnamon. For a background singer, ground Ceylon is the way to go.
Using cinnamon sticks in cooking is great for infusing a delicate cinnamon flavor to any dish. It is excellent for cooking curries or spiced drinks, in which ground cinnamon would contribute a much more overwhelming and, in some cases, overpowering flavor. Organic cinnamon sticks are perfect for contributing that hint of flavor to any dish that requires the cinnamon taste to be muted. You may find this is the case with gourmet hot chocolate recipes, or when used to craft specialty coffees.
It is excellent with carrot or butternut squash bisque, and soups in general. It tastes nice with root vegetable dishes. If you are a big lover of adding ground cinnamon to your oatmeal, use a whole cinnamon stick instead! Just add a stick, cook your oatmeal as per usual, and then remove the cinnamon before serving. Better yet, prop the cinnamon stick up in the oatmeal before serving and use it as a stirrer. This will help cool the oatmeal and will also add just a bit more flavor.
Use whole cinnamon sticks to stir your warm bowls of homemade applesauce. This will add just a tiny bit of extra cinnamon flavor to your applesauce, plus it feels nice and fancy to stir applesauce with this curly little spice instead of with a metal spoon.
Add it to slow cooker dinners. Cinnamon is great in chili or with roasts and short ribs. Just leave the sticks in there to do their thing and remove them before serving your meat.
Of course, cinnamon sticks find their place in some baking applications as well. Use Organic Cinnamon Sticks to flavor the milk or cream in custard, flan, or candy recipes. It is lovely for making rice pudding- just add the sticks to the pudding, cook, remove the sticks and stir, and then allow to chill the pudding before it is served.
If you want to have sweet cinnamon toast for breakfast on your lazy Sunday mornings, those thick slices of buttered wheat bread that has been cooked for exactly three minutes to maintain the crispness on both sides while giving in to your toothy bite with a spongey center, there's an easy way to do that. First, take a pound of sugar and add four organic cinnamon sticks to it. Wait a week and then move the sugar and cinnamon sticks around, stirring with the sticks if you so choose. Nestle them back into the sugar and wait another week. Once the total two weeks has passed, remove the cinnamon sticks. What's left is a cinnamon-y sugar perfect for the occasional sweet treat. This shouldn't be something you eat every day as it is not nutritionally valuable, but it's okay every now and again as a heartwarming goodie.
Whole cinnamon sticks are less fragrant and less bold than when they are ground. This is because there is less surface area for the oils to evaporate off of the cinnamon stick than there is on ground cinnamon. If you want to achieve a delicate cinnamon flavor, the whole stick is your best bet. If you are looking for a huge cinnamon flavor, ground is the way to go.
Cinnamon sticks are blessed with a sweeter, robust cinnamon flavor. When ground, this flavor and the distinct cinnamon aroma are even more noticeable.
You can replace Organic Cinnamon Sticks with their conventional version, or in a pinch, you can use ground cinnamon the same way. Remember that ground is much more flavorful however, so use a little at a time and then add more as you need it.