This warm, aromatic botanical has a light brown to reddish color and a bittersweet flavor. It’s derived from the dried bark of tropical evergreens.
How to Choose Cinnamon
Cinnamon is harvested from tropical trees during the rainy season and is generally identified as Ceylon and cassia. Cassia cinnamon is a species cultivated in China and Indonesia and often found in American supermarkets; it has a slightly bittersweet flavor. Ceylon cinnamon, which originates from Sri Lanka, has a mild, sweet flavor and is more commonly used throughout the rest of the world.
Ground cinnamon is great for baking as well as adding an earthiness to stews, chili dishes, and curries. Cinnamon sticks have a smooth, earthy, and sweet flavor. (The redder they are, generally, the stronger they’ll taste.) Steep them in warm beverages, like mulled wine and apple cider, or use them to season stews and curries.
How to Store Cinnamon
When stored properly, ground cinnamon can last up to 3 years and cinnamon sticks up to 4 years. Both should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat. Faded color or diminished aroma or taste usually indicates that the spice is old and should be replaced.
How to Prepare Cinnamon
Avoid sprinkling ground cinnamon directly from its container into a hot or steaming pot. The steam can hasten the loss of the remaining flavor and aroma in the spice. Cinnamon sticks may be grated, broken off, or added to a recipe as is.
Taste and smell the spice before adding it to your dish. Older spices will have lost some flavor, so you may need to use more in the recipe.
How to Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon is known for its role in sweet treats, such as baklava, snickerdoodles, doughnuts, and apple pie. It works well in savory dishes, too, adding earthiness to curries, stews, and barbecue rubs.
—Stephanie Southworth Geary
Real Simple Cinnamon Recipes:
- Five-Spice Pork Chops With Grilled Plums
- Oatmeal and Pie-Spice Cookies
- Roast Chicken With Moroccan Spice Rub
- Spice-Baked Sea Bass and Red Lentils
- Orange, Soy, and Five-Spice Rub Chicken
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