Cinnamon is as familiar to most of us as grandma’s famous apple pie. It is a warm and cozy spice that is often used in desserts and beverages around wintertime. But if you’ve only used cinnamon to flavor your favorite sweets, you’re missing out on its full potential. Different cultures have used cinnamon in a variety of dishes – desserts or otherwise – as well as an herbal medicine for many years. In fact, it is one of the oldest spices known! Cinnamon truly has a deeper personality and history than just as the topping on your hot apple cider.
What is Cinnamon?
The cinnamon you buy from the store could actually be coming from one of many cinnamon trees in the genus “cinnamomum”. Different varieties of cinnamon trees are grown in many parts of the world including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and China. The production of cinnamon is a constant since the demand is high year round. It is also a patient process, as you cannot force trees to speed up their production.
Cinnamon sticks are actually pieces of the bark of the cinnamon tree that have been dried. When the bark dries it naturally curls and forms the sticks we know and love, which are often called “quills”. The powdered form is simply the dried bark finely ground.
Cinnamon and Sustainability
Nutiva believes in sustainability with our food purchases, so we love that there is cinnamon that is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Cinnamon that is Rainforest Alliance certified is dedicated to lessening its impact on the planet and providing fair wages for the harvesters. Even better news is that cinnamon can be grown in large numbers with out the use of chemicals and is an inherently sustainable crop.
For those of you who love to grow your own food, you’ll be happy to know since it is a tree, you can even grow and harvest it yourself. The growing process is long and requires patience, so keep that in mind should you decide to grow it yourself.
Cinnamon as More Than a Dessert Topping
Ready to try cinnamon in new ways? Add some ground cinnamon to your next batch of black beans for a unique and rich flavor. Moroccan cuisine uses cinnamon in fish recipes, and beauty experts have even suggested using small amounts of cinnamon to natural lip plumper! Cinnamon is also a main ingredient in classically homemade bay rum aftershave recipes too. You can also heat cinnamon, dried orange peels and cloves in water for a rich and natural air freshener. Try these other tips for cinnamon use as a beauty product or for ideas on how to use it around the house. Using spices in new ways is a great way to keep you excited in the kitchen.
Purchasing cinnamon in the stick form and then grinding it yourself will allow you to have cinnamon with a longer shelf life (about one year vs. powdered which keeps for about 6 months), so keep that in mind the next time you need to pick some up at the market. Keep cinnamon in cool, dark places in tightly sealed jars.
What’s your favorite way to use cinnamon – in the kitchen or otherwise? Do you have a favorite recipe that showcases the awesome flavor?