FAQ: Why are there so many cinnamons?!?
Cinnamon, the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree, is one of the few spices that you can eat whole.
Cinnamon is native to southeast Asia, and its more than fifty species are grouped into a handful of types: strong-tasting Vietnam or Saigon cinnamon, Indonesian or Korintje cassia cinnamon [tastes most like what we're used to in the US], and delicately flavored Sri Lanka “true” cinnamon.
Here are the features that distinguish the different types of cinnamon:
Korintje (Cassia) Cinnamon: Indonesian Korintje cinnamon comes from cassia, a cinnamon with a thicker bark and a stronger flavor than “true” [Sri Lankan or Ceylon] cinnamon. Indonesian Korintje cinnamon is smooth but has a surprising edge — this is the familiar cinnamon taste that most of us here in the US grew up with. This cinnamon holds the middle ground between our oil-rich, strongly-flavored Saigon cinnamon and our delicately-flavored Sri Lankan cinnamon. Indonesian Korintje cinnamon is a fantastic flavor for your fancy coffee beverages, for fruit dishes, and rice puddings — really it’s a wonderful, rich cinnamon suited for every recipe and use.
Sri Lankan (Ceylon) “True” Cinnamon: Sri Lankan or “True” cinnamon is native to the island of Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, just south of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, this cinnamon is sometimes referred to as Ceylon cinnamon, and is prized for its delicate flavor. Sri Lankan cinnamon has a complex, subtle flavor not found in the more common cassias. Its light, delicate flavor makes it the preferred cinnamon in European and Mexican cuisine, as it is not as spicy or sharp as cassia cinnamon. It’s a staple in any pastry chef’s pantry.
Saigon Cinnamon: Saigon, or Vietnamese, cinnamon is closely related to cassia cinnamon, and has the highest essential oil content of all our cinnamon varieties. Saigon cinnamon’s intense spicy-sweet flavor and aroma are prized for use in baking, curries, and candies. With a thick bark that is deep brown, the resulting powdered cinnamon is wonderfully rich in flavor. Spicy yet sweet, perfect for any recipe. It’s an ultra-premium cinnamon!
Which cinnamon is your favorite cinnamon? Let us know in the comments section below.