Cinnamon has been
around since a few millennia now!
Cinnamon was so highly prized among
ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit
for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription
records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the
The name cinnamon
comes from Hebrew and Phoenician through the Greek
kinnámōmon. Cinnamon is believed to be a
native of Sri Lanka.
In Herodotus and
other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon:
giant Cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks
from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew
and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs
employed a trick to obtain the cinnamon sticks. This
story was current as late as 1310 in Byzantium,
although in the first century, Pliny the Elder had
written that the traders had made this up in order
to charge more for cinnamon.
Before the foundation
of Cairo, Alexandria was the Mediterranean shipping
port of cinnamon. Europeans who knew the Latin
writers who were quoting Herodotus knew that
cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the trading ports of
Egypt, but whether from Ethiopia or not was less
Cinnamon is harvested
by growing the tree for two years then coppicing it.
The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from
the roots of cinnamon tree.
The branches harvested this way are processed by
scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch
evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. The
inner bark is then prised out in long rolls. Only
the thin (0.5 mm (0.020 in)) inner bark is used; the
outer, woody portion is discarded, leaving metre-long
cinnamon strips that curl into rolls ("quills") on
drying. Once dry, the bark is cut into 5–10 cm
(2.0–3.9 in) lengths for sale.
The bark of
cinnamon tree must be
processed immediately after harvesting while still
wet. Once processed, the bark will dry completely in
four to six hours, provided that it is in a
well-ventilated and relatively warm environment. A
less than ideal drying environment encourages the
proliferation of pests in the bark, which may then
require treatment by fumigation. Bark treated this
way is not considered to be of the same premium
quality as untreated bark.
Cinnamon's unique healing abilities come from three
basic types of components in the essential oils
found in its bark. These oils contain active
components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl
acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a
wide range of other volatile substances.
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Cinnamon from Madagascar