Ceylon Cinnamon - The History
Cinnamon is one of the oldest aromatic plants in the world. Already 2500 years before Christ the Hindus living in China used it for food. In Egypt it was used for embalming and as a medicine and incense. The Romans used cinnamon as medicine, aphrodisiac and, a little later, as a spice. In the Middle Ages, cinnamon was used as a remedy for gout. The traders kept the origin of the cinnamon sticks secret for a long time in order to justify the high price.
The origin of the tree
The real cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum flower) was originally native to Ceylon, today's Sri Lanka, as well as to southern India. Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia lignea) has its origins in China. Cassia cinnamon can now also be found in Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan, among others. From a botanical point of view, the cinnamon trees belong to the large laurel family.
The harvest and the name
The cinnamon sticks are extracted from the inner bark of the trees. They are removed from the bark, scraped off and dried. The thinner the sticks, the lower the tannin content and the finer the taste. The cinnamon can be harvested every 7 to 8 months. The cinnamon is also called Kanel or Canehl (canelle means small tube in French). The English word cinnamon is derived from the Latin cinnamum, spice plant. In Sinhala, cinnamon is called Kurundu. The sweet cinnamon bark oil is made from the branches and fragments. Oil is also extracted from the leaves of the cinnamon tree.
Why use cinnamon?
Cinnamon is used today for flavoring in food and drink. Cinnamon is also often used in the production of perfumes, cosmetics and scented candles. In many countries, cinnamon is used for toothache, rheumatism, athlete's foot and to reduce weight. The cinnamon oil has an antiseptic, blood circulation-promoting and anti-cramping effect. It also helps with inflammation and bacterial infections. In Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon warms the body, has a calming effect, and supports digestion, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. To this day, cinnamon is considered the “insulin of the poor” in many parts of Asia.
The cozy cent of Cinnamon
In Europe, cinnamon is very often enjoyed at Christmas. The cinnamon is eaten as a powder on top of the rice pudding. Usually cinnamon is used in baking. Everything from cinnamon stars to cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon is spread as a scent in the Christmas parlors to get the real Christmas feeling.