Oct 18, 2013

Cinnamon and Cassia

Did you know the cinnamon in Cinnabon rolls is actually not "true" cinnamon? True cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon is a spice made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. It has a citrusy fragrance and complex yet mild taste without the "bite" we associate with the spice.

Cinnamon is produced from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree belonging to the Laurel family with the genus Cinnamomum. Although there are four commercial species of Cinnamomum, the global cinnamon market recognizes the product from one species as true cinnamon. The product from the other three species, widely sold as cinnamon, is actually cassia.

The last two are more closely related to cassia than cinnamon
True cinnamon – Cinnamomum verum
Cassia – Cinnamomum aromaticum
Indonesian - Cinnamomum burmannii
Vietnamese - Cinnamomum loureiroi

About a hundred years ago, American traders started importing cassia because of a rise in the price of Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia continues to be the main variety sold in supermarkets in the US and Canada. American labeling laws do not require that a distinction be made between cassia and cinnamon in the retail market.

The "cinnamon" found in Cinnabon and your kitchen is actually cassia, derived from Cinnamomum burmannii, a tree native to Indonesia. Of all the Cinnamomum species, this form of cassia (known as Indonesian cassia or Korintje cassia) has the lowest oil content and is therefore the cheapest. Cinnabon trademarked its supply of Korintje cassia as "Makara Cinnamon." Cinnamon and cassia have numerous health benefits.