Who can resist the sweet, spicy, warm and aromatic cinnamon flavor, especially in winter? Used as a wonderful addition to both sweet and savory dishes, as wells as all kinds of beverages, cinnamon is one of the most favorite and highly valued spices in the whole world.
It has been used since ancient times both for culinary and medical purposes. There are multiple references of cinnamon in ancient Chinese and Egyptian texts, as well as in the Bible.
But where does cinnamon come from?
We obtain this spice from the internal auburn colored coat of the evergreen cinnamon tree that originates from the tropical regions. The tree has dark green oblong leaves that are also aromatic. Inedible berries of dark violet color develop from tiny yellowish blossoms.
The two available forms of cinnamon are dried cinnamon sticks called quills and the ground powder.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum) is a member of the Lauraceae plant family, which contains around 2, 5000 various cinnamon species. Bay leaves and avocado are its first cousins who also belong to the Lauraceae family. The type of cinnamon most commonly used in the United States and Europe is Cassia cinnamomum, which is sweeter and more powerful in taste. Cinammomum Verum, or true cinnamon has a milder taste and it is predominantly used in Latin America, India and Asia.
The multiple health provisions of cinnamon
Cinnamon exhibits an amazing healing potential, too. It is mostly due to the active substances in the three essential oils: cinnamyl acetate, cinnamyl acohol, and cinnamaldehyde.
- Cinnamaldehyde has shown the ability to prevent the formation of blood clots and to reduce inflammation.
- The remarkable effect of cinnamon in the destruction of microbes has been studied and proven. It inhibits microbial and fungal growth so effectively that the addition of cinnamon can be considered as a way to preserve food. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology has revealed that several drops of cinnamon essential oil added to refrigerated carrot stew prevented the growth of a pathogenic type of bacterial for 60 days. Another bowl of stew without the addition of cinnamon oil was also kept in cold temperature but the pathogenic bacteria grew in it and spread anyway.
- Cinnamon demonstrates the ability to regulate blood sugar levels and lower them in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research performed in humans and animals.
- It is a powerful antioxidant, preventing various diseases.
- Its aromatic scent enhances overall mental capacities, which is another ability proven by science. To boost brain function, it is sufficient to inhale it or chew it in the form of a gum with cinnamon flavor.
- Cinnamon supports colon and heart health, due to its manganese, calcium and fiber content.
- Cinnamon has been used in the treatment of colds and the flu due to its anti-bacterial and excellent warming qualities.
Did you know that you can grow your own cinnamon tree?
Not only that, it is easy to grow and maintain. It thrives in relatively dry and well drained acidic ground if you choose to decorate the interior of your home with it. You can even choose its size. It can only grow to be 3 feet tall if your prune it on a regular basis or transfer it to a bigger pot where it can reach the height of 8 feet.
Cinnamon tree likes the sun, so it will thrive under full and partial sunshine.
In zones 9 and higher, it is possible to plant cinnamon tree outdoors, in which case it will need fertilized sandy soil.
How is it propagated?
It is multiplied by seedlings, rooted cuttings, and air layering. The seeds are found inside the berry fruits, covered with the pulp. You should collect, clean and dry them, and it is advised that you plant them in a nursery immediately. The seeds will germinate in 3 weeks approximately.
They need to be transferred to a pot in four months time and again transplanted either outside or in an even bigger container. The size of your cinnamon tree will depend on the size of the pot from that moment onward.
How to maintain cinnamon tree?
It requires little care. Your cinnamon tree will be grateful if you use a liquid fertilizer once monthly when it is actively growing.You should prune it during harvest time to keep the desired shape and height.
The roots have a tendency to rot, so water it scarcely. The temperature both inside your home and outdoors should never be below 60 degrees.The tree should be given the minimum time of two years to grow before harvesting the bark.
After this time, the stems should be cut back near the ground to boost new stem growths. Allow four of the new shoots to grow for the next two years and trim them to keep the stems straight. Gather the stems when they reach the height of around 3 meters and the width of 2-5 cm.
When can you gather cinnamon bark from the tree?
You need to wait at least two years before you attempt to harvest the bark, which has two sorts: the young sticks and full-grown wood. .
To gather the bark from immature whips, you need to cut them into 3-inch pieces. To loosen the rind, make a slice from end to end and peel it off. It will curl instantly, which is normal.
Allow it to dry in an open and sunny location with lots of air circulation.
To acquire the bark from full-grown wood, the stems should be cut into 3 inch pieces and sliced from end to end, not cutting into the stem completely. You can soak the stems in some warm water to loosen the bark.
Scoop out the core and inner covering and let the remaining bark dry thoroughly. If you want to obtain a thicker stick, or the quill, layer a couple of bark pieces together.
How to store cinnamon?
Keep it in a dry and cool indoor location in tightly closed containers.
So spice up your home or garden with this amazing plant and delight your friends with a glass of wine seasoned with cinnamon from your own tree.