Buying Good Quality Cinnamon and Proper Storage
Cinnamon is a spice with a rich and fascinating history. From the ancient Egyptians, who used it during the embalming process which produced mummies, to the ancient Chinese, who valued it more than gold, this sweet smelling spice has been traded, fought over and used for myriad purposes for thousands of years.
It was among the most valuable of the spices which fueled the spice trade of the 17th century, and many myths were told by traders to hide and protect its true origins.
Buying and Keeping Cinnamon
Cinnamon is the inner bark of one of several trees in the Cinnamomum genus; as such it is extremely difficult to cultivate at home, and most of us must buy the cinnamon we use. Nearly 80% of the world’s cinnamon now comes from Sri Lanka.
Ceylon cinnamon, sometimes also called “true cinnamon” is usually only available from specialty stores.
This type of cinnamon is more expensive than others, and has a milder taste with a citrus-y tang. The most commonly available type of cinnamon is cassia cinnamon, from cassia trees. Cassia cinnamon varies enormously in quality, so if you want the best you need to ensure that you’re buying premium quality spice. A good way to check is to look for a volatile oil content of at least 2%.
Whether you buy cinnamon quills or ground cinnamon depends on your preferred uses of the spice, but you might want to buy some of each. Ground cinnamon will keep well for about six months in a cool, dark cupboard. Store cinnamon quills in an airtight jar away from direct sunlight, or even in the fridge – quills will stay fresh for around a year under the right conditions, although some preserved quills are hundreds of years old!
Medicinal Uses of Cinnamon
Cinnamon’s many medicinal uses elevate it into the realm of a “superfood”, but it’s important to note that pregnant women should not consume too much cinnamon. The normal amount of cinnamon consumed when used as a food is fine, but cinnamon supplements or extra usage of any kind during pregnancy should be avoided in case the spice stimulates contractions.
Keep your blood sugar under control – Research and medical studies have shown that cinnamon can play a positive role in stabilizing and lowering blood sugar levels, because it slows down the rate at which the stomach empties. Eating cinnamon can therefore help people suffering from diabetes, when combined with medical treatment.
Get rid of bad breath – Cinnamon smells lovely, so it’s quite rational that we might use it to mask bad odors. It also has antibacterial properties, so it’s the perfect spice to use to help combat halitosis.
Fight fungal infections – Those same antibacterial properties can be a great help against fungal infections, including candida, ringworm and athlete’s foot. Hang some crushed cinnamon in a muslin bag and run your bath water through it – you’ll not only smell great, but you’ll feel better too.
Douse the flames of heartburn – Cinnamon tea is a popular ayurvedic medicine for heartburn. Simply add a teaspoon of crushed or powdered cinnamon to a cup of hot water, leave to steep for a few moments, strain and drink.
Sweeten your bedtime – Having trouble sleeping? Cinnamon has mild sedative properties, so adding some to a glass of warm milk before bedtime can help relax you and combat insomnia, particularly during times of stress.Share with friends!