What is cinnamon powder
Cinnamon stick or powder?
What is cinnamon
Cinnamon, or "Canehl", is a spice made from the dried bark of various cinnamon trees. However, in addition to the bark, the leaves or the so-called cinnamon blossom can also be used.
How and when is cinnamon harvested?
The cinnamon bark is peeled from the tree using an old method with a knife-like instrument. The thin long pieces of shell are then placed inside one another. When drying, the fine leaves roll into one another, creating a relatively stable structure. This is then cut or ground into different lengths as required.
Where does the cinnamon tree grow?
The classic, original growing area of cinnamon is Sri Lanka. Today, however, most of the quantities come from China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
What types of cinnamon are there?
- The real cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). For many, it is of the best quality. The aroma is fine, sweet, fruity-elegant and aromatic. For many, this is the best quality. In the unground state you can recognize it by the fact that it is rolled up into one another with fine leaves and is light brown. The ground powder is powdery and caramel-colored.
- The widely used and often used cassia cinnamonis another plant, the cinnamon cassia (Cinnamomum cassia). In contrast to Ceylon cinnamon, it consists of a significantly thicker layer of bark that is simply (!) Rolled. Cassia cinnamon is not inferior per se but has different flavors for other purposes: earthy, wooden and strong.
- Cinnamon blossoms are the stalky fruits of the young cassia cinnamon tree. Cinnamon blossoms are visually reminiscent of cloves, but the stem is considerably thinner and, in contrast to the clove, the head is missing. The ground cinnamon blossom is deep brown. Their taste is very strong and earthy. The cinnamon blossom initially shoots the “smell” and only releases slight aromas. The fragrance of the unground blossom is reminiscent of cinnamon with beetroot. When you bite the cinnamon blossom, a strong, sweet, pungent and musky aroma develops. My culinary tip: Put whole cinnamon blossoms in ice cream mass (before freezing), compotes or sauces and let them steep until the desired concentration is achieved.
- Cinnamon leaves Also called Indian bay leaf (Cinnamomum tamala), it is sometimes wrongly sold as bay leaf, but has a completely different flavor and therefore different areas of application. The leaf has longitudinally striped panicle formation, in contrast to the bay leaf, which has transverse striped panicle formation. Cinnamon tree leaves are also much larger than bay leaves, but the color is similar. Its aroma is herbal with fine cinnamon aromas. Perfect for stews and curries.
What about coumarin and other possibly harmful substances?
In my opinion, this is negligible. All cinnamon, whether Ceylon or cassia, has a very strong taste, so you don't need a lot of it. So I don't see a problem with normal dosages. Unless you eat cinnamon every day of the year.
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How can you tell the quality of cinnamon?
To assess the quality of the cinnamon, you should look at the sticks, because as soon as the cinnamon is ground, you cannot understand what has been ground. A distinctive, fresh aroma is crucial. Sticks that no longer have a fragrance should be left lying around.
Which is better: bars or powder?
That decides the dish you prepare: I recommend using whole pieces in compotes, ragouts, curry or sauces. If very large amounts of cinnamon are required (e.g. for cakes), ground cinnamon is better.
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How do you use powder and sticks correctly, respectively?
Whole stalks and flowers should not be added at the beginning, but only about halfway through the cooking process. As soon as the desired intensity is reached in the dish, the rod / flowers can be removed again. In the case of ice cream / creams in milk or cream, the whole cinnamon stick or cinnamon blossom should be added before boiling and removed after reaching the desired intensity. So the intensity remains stable after passing it. For a homogeneous mixture, powder should be added right at the beginning, e.g. to cake dough.
How can you use cinnamon well in salty areas?
Cinnamon blossoms can be eaten raw on crustaceans, for example, and then cooked in butter. One of my favorite dishes is Breton lobster with cinnamon blossoms. Traces of cinnamon make a tomato sauce very exciting. Or fry the veal liver with cinnamon pieces together in butter or add cinnamon salt as a finish over saddle of venison and duck breast - there are many, very delicious uses.
What are common mistakes when using cinnamon?
Too much, too much, too much! You should always dose cinnamon carefully, because overdosed it does more damage than it gives pleasure. As an example: In the case of an apple pie, I can accept that the apples show brownish traces due to oxidation. Brownish color due to the high use of cinnamon, on the other hand, is a "no-go" for me. The charm and the fine aroma of the apple would be masked by the dominance of the cinnamon.
Is Cinnamon Healthy?
When dosed correctly, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and also lower cholesterol levels. At the same time, as a warming spice, cinnamon boosts the metabolism, which can be helpful if you want to lose weight. But I can't say more about it because I'm not a doctor. Chefs should know their limits and where your area of expertise ends.
When is cinnamon poisonous?
Cinnamon gets its reputation for being poisonous from its liver-damaging ingredient coumarin. But you would have to eat completely unrealistic amounts of cinnamon to endanger yourself. In this respect: the all-clear!
About Ingo Holland
Ingo Holland is regarded by top German chefs as the best spice expert in Germany. The former star chef now runs the “Old Spice Office” in Klingenberg.
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