Cinnamon verum is also known as Ceylon cinnamon and true cinnamon. The distinctively heady aroma of cinnamon draws crowds to kitchens, bakeries and markets all over the world. And, cinnamon has a special flavour that distinguishes foods like cinnamon rolls and cinnamon doughnuts, panna cotta and fruit crumbles from all other sweet treats. It’s cinnamon that makes Middle Eastern and Moroccan food so distinctive. It’s exotic smell and flavour make it a basic cooking ingredient. Be aware though, that there are two different types of cinnamon, and for your health’s sake, you need to know the difference.
For many people, it’s hard to tell the difference between Cinnamon cassia and Cinnamon verum because the smell and flavour are similar. But, there are very significant differences between the two types of cinnamon. Both varieties are produced from the bark of a tree and the harvesting process is the same. As strips of bark are cut off small branches, they naturally curl, forming the familiar ‘quills’ or sticks. The bark is also ground into a powder.
Cinnamonum cassia, also known as Chinese cinnamon, has a stronger, spicier flavour. This variety is easier to grow and cheaper to produce. Cassia is the type typically found on supermarket shelves around the world. The quills of cassia are chunky and are often one curled piece of thick bark. Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called coumarin, which apart from being a natural blood-thinner, has been found to cause liver damage if consumed in excess or over a long time.
However, for true foodies, and those who value the health benefits of cinnamon, the choice is always Cinnamonum verum. The smell and flavour is complex and delicate. The bark of the verum plant is fine and quite fragile. To produce a quill, many layers of bark are overlaid. The process is slow and laborious, and the result is more expensive, but superior in flavour and health benefits. Cinnamonum verum has only trace amounts of coumarin which makes it the preferred variety for health-conscious people. If you are using cinnamon regularly in your cooking for flavour and health, then verum is absolutely the best choice.
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