Cinnamon, the dried inner bark of trees from the Cinnamomum genus, is one of the oldest spices with people apparently using it 3000 years BC. The word cinnamon comes from the Latin word “cannella” a diminutive form of “canna” (engl.: “tube”) the shape it gets when it curls up drying. Some people think Cassia is a low quality version of cinnamon, but in fact it is a different spice, since the bark derives from a different tree, the Cassia tree and is mainly marketed in North America. Sri Lanka produces 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon supply. Traveling Sri Lanka, I visited a tiny Island by boat to meet a family harvesting Cinnamon. Isn’t it funny, once you realize you have never ever wondered how a certain typ of food is grown or produced, which we eat regularly? The house was surrounded by fresh and green Cinnamon “bushes”. The family cut them regularly so that they would constantly reproducing new young and fresh branches. Arriving at the tiny house, we saw the dad sitting in the dirty soil scraping off the outer bark of a cinnamon branch and then beating it with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. He then pried out stripes of fresh green inner bark, which would curl into rolls on drying. Above the area, where the dad was sitting, these curled up “tubes” were dried on a “washing line” under the roof for 5-6 hours to be later cut into sticks of 10 cm for sale.
Cinnamon is a healthy spice with amazing benefits on headaches, constipation, diabetes and even cancer.