All About Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks are properly called quills and true cinnamon is easily
distinguished from cassia when in quill form.
After harvesting and drying, cinnamon quills curl tightly while the much
harder cassia has a looser, scroll-like curl.
True cinnamon is a tan colour compared to the dark red-brown of cassia.
Contrary to what many think, cinnamon is not a tree but an evergreen bush, which prefers direct sun and consistent warm temperatures (27°C to 30°C). Terroir is as important with cinnamon as with wine and if
you ever encounter bitter cinnamon you will know the soil in which it was grown was allowed to become waterlogged.
Cinnamon is generally harvested twice a year following a rainy season when
the moisture facilitates peeling. Cinnamon should optimally be obtained from
branches between 1.2cm and 5cm in diameter.
How Cinnamon is Harvested
- Tender stems (diameter of less
than 1.2cm) removed and recycled;
- Bark from branches with
diameters greater than 5cm are used for oil distillation;
- Outer bark removed with fine,
- Branch stripped of outer bark
is rubbed with a brass rod to loosen the inner bark. Brass is used to
prevent discolourations caused by other metals;
- Incisions are made around the
branch every 30cm with a small paring knife or razor - stainless steel also
- Long longitudinal cuts are
then made along the branch and the inner bark carefully removed with the
assistance of the paring knife and rod;
- The pieces of removed bark are
laid one inside another to make long compound quills (up to 1m long);
- The compound quills are placed
on rope racks and dried in shade; then
- After four to five days of
drying, the quills are rolled on a board to tighten and placed in indirect
sunlight for further drying.