The Grocer: Cinnamon
Believed to cure snakebites, freckles and the common cold back in the day, cinnamon is a spice that packs a surprising health punch.
A spice cultivated from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum, cinnamon is derived from many strands in the Lauraceae family. Sri Lanka produces 80–90% of the world’s supply of ‘true cinnamon’, known as Cinnamomum verum, which is also cultivated in Seychelles and Madagascar. Indonesia, China, Indian and Vietnam produce the spice typically known as cassia, which is related to cinnamon and cultivated from other Cinnamomum tree species.
Cinnamon trees are grown for two years, before the stems are cut at ground level. The stems are then processed straight away, while the inner bark is still wet, with the outer bark scraped off and the branch beaten with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. This inner bark is then pried off in long rolls, which forms quills upon drying. New shoots will form from the cut roots, to produce new plants the following year.
This fragrant spice has a sweet warming taste, and is usually found in the form of a thin smooth quill or as a ground powder. This spice is known to cleanse and detoxify the body, as well as boosting immunity and protecting against free radical damage. This powerful bark is also excellent for the blood, oxygenating and rebuilding the blood, boosting circulation, preventing clots and regulating blood sugar levels. The antioxidant is also an excellent source of manganese, fiber, iron and calcium, and is believed to improve energy and vitality.
While traditionally cinnamon has been used as a food preservative, it is also a powerful addition to both sweet and savoury dishes. Find it wound through bars of dark chocolate, roasted with granola and sprinkled over moreish doughnuts. You can also mix the spice with sugar to make cinnamon of French toast, or drizzle a little flaxseed oil over your spongey bread of choice before sprinkling it with cinnamon and honey for something a little more decadent. You can also try making these sticky spiced cinnamon rolls with maple glaze or this Amish cinnamon bread for morning tea. Or serve these crock pot cinnamon pecans as an after-dinner treat with your cinnamon-infused cocktail or cup of steaming chai.
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