CINNAMON PRODUCTION NOTES
Cinnamon is an evergreen tree characterized by oval-shaped leaves, thick bark, and a berry fruit. When harvesting the spice, the bark and leaves are the primary parts of the plant used. Cinnamon is cultivated by growing the tree for two years, then coppicing it, i.e., cutting the stems at ground level. The following year, about a dozen new shoots form from the roots, replacing those that were cut. A number of pests such as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Diplodia species, and Phytophthora cinnamomi (stripe canker) can affect the growing plants.
The stems must be processed immediately after harvesting while the inner bark is still wet. The cut stems are processed by scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark, which is then pried off in long rolls. Only 0.5 mm (0.02 in) of the inner bark is used; the outer, woody portion is discarded, leaving metre-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls (“quills”) on drying. The processed bark dries completely in four to six hours, provided it is in a well-ventilated and relatively warm environment. Once dry, the bark is cut into 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) lengths for sale.
A less than ideal drying environment encourages the proliferation of pests in the bark, which may then require treatment by fumigation with sulphur dioxide. In 2011, the European Union approved the use of sulphur dioxide at a concentration of up to 150 mg/kg for the treatment of C. verum bark harvested in Sri Lanka.
A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:
- Cinnamomum cassia (cassia or Chinese cinnamon, the most common commercial type)
- C. burmannii (Korintje, Padang cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon)
- C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia, or Vietnamese cinnamon)
- C. verum (Sri Lanka cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- C. citriodorum (Malabar cinnamon)
Cassia induces a strong, spicy flavour and is often used in baking, especially associated with cinnamon rolls, as it handles baking conditions well. Among cassia, Chinese cinnamon is generally medium to light reddish brown in colour, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) thick), as all of the layers of bark are used. Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a lighter brown colour and a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture. It is subtle and more aromatic in flavour than cassia and it loses much of its flavour during cooking.
The barks of the species are easily distinguished when whole, both in macroscopic and microscopic characteristics. Ceylon cinnamon sticks (quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder, whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian cinnamon is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon cinnamon (C. loureiroi) and Chinese cinnamon (C. cassia) are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills.
The powdered bark is harder to distinguish, but if it is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible with pure Ceylon cinnamon, but when Chinese cinnamon is present, a deep-blue tint is produced.
The Sri Lankan grading system divides the cinnamon quills into four groups:
- Alba, less than 6 mm (0.24 in) in diameter
- Continental, less than 16 mm (0.63 in) in diameter
- Mexican, less than 19 mm (0.75 in) in diameter
- Hamburg, less than 32 mm (1.3 in) in diameter
These groups are further divided into specific grades. For example, Mexican is divided into M00000 special, M000000, and M0000, depending on quill diameter and number of quills per kilogram. Any pieces of bark less than 106 mm (4.2 in) long are categorized as quillings. Featherings are the inner bark of twigs and twisted shoots. Chips are trimmings of quills, outer and inner bark that cannot be separated, or the bark of small twigs.
|Cinnamon production – 2017|
In 2017, four countries accounted for 99% of the world total: Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Global production has multiplied more than ten-fold since 1970. The largest change by country was for Vietnam, which went from being a minor producer in 1970 to third-largest in 2017.
How is cinnamon produced?
What are the components of cinnamon?
Cinnamon consists of a variety of resinous compounds, including cinnamaldehyde, cinnamate, cinnamic acid, and numerous essential oils  (Table 1). Singh et al.  reported that the spicy taste and fragrance are due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde and occur due to the absorption of oxygen.