Cinnamon is a light brown coloured spice having fragrant aroma and sweet, warm flavour. Once, it was costlier than gold. In Egypt, cinnamon was used for embalming as well as witchcraft whereas in Europe it was used for religious rites.
At present, cinnamon is used to flavour food items such as confectioneries, curries etc. In foreign countries they are mainly used in bakery products. The cinnamon is harvested in the wet season, by cutting the shoots near the ground. While processing, the shoots are scraped using a semicircular blade. It is then rubbed by using a brass rod for loosening the bark and is then split with a knife and peeled off. The peels are now overlapped one over the other to form a quill around 42 inches long. It is filled with trimmings of these barks in order to maintain a cylindrical shape. It is then kept for drying after which the quills are rolled on a board for tightening and is again kept in sunlight for further drying. Next is the bleaching of cinnamon with sulfur dioxide and is then finally sorted into various grades. Cinnamon contains about 0.5 to 1 percent of essential oil whose main component is cinnamic aldehyde.
Aroma and flavour
Cinnamon contains about 0.5 to 1 present essential oil whose main component is cinnamic aldehyde i.e. about 60%. It also includes components such as eugenol, eugenol acetate, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, esters and terpenes. The oil is used in food, perfumes, drugs etc. Cinnamon leaf oil is also used which contains the main component eugenol.
Medicinal and Other use
As said earlier the main use of cinnamon is as a flavour in foods. The stick cinnamon is added to rice dishes, mulled wines and also to syrups for poaching fruit. The chips are used in tea infusions. The cinnamon is grounded and used in baked products like cakes, pasteries, biscuits etc. Cinnamon leaf oil is added to processed meats, condiments and bakery items and the oil from the bark is used in perfumes. The main component of cinnamon, i.e cinnamic aldehyde and eugenol are antifungal agents. Cinnamon is also used as a remedy for diarrhoea and stomach problems.