Cinnamon is mostly grown in South Asia and the Middle East. This spice is actually the bark of a tree and it is available in the form of a powder or sticks. While you can use cinnamon at any time of the year, it is best to use it in winter as the sweet and luscious taste of the spice is ideal of the cold weather.
There are primarily 2 types of cinnamon available in the market. They are Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Both are similar in flavor, but the Ceylon cinnamon is sweeter and considered to be of a higher quality.
Both forms of cinnamon (stick and powder) can be stored, but the stick variety can be kept for a longer period of time. Cassia cinnamon is more commonly available in stores, while Ceylon cinnamon can be purchased in spice stores or ethnic markets.
One has to be careful to buy only cinnamon that is organically grown, so that you can be sure of it not being irradiated or containing contaminants. Irradiation causes dramatic decrease in the carotenoid content and Vitamin C content of cinnamon.
Cinnamon can be used in the form of sticks or powder. Cinnamon powder can be made by grinding the sticks of cinnamon in a blender or food processor. While the powder retains all the taste, aroma and flavor of the stick, it has to be checked for sweet smell. This will ensure that the powder is fresh. If there is any change in the smell, the powder should be thrown away and not used.
Preserve the sticks or powder in air tight glass containers and keep them in cool, dark and dry place. Sticks remain fresh in this way up to one year while the powder can be used only up to six months. So, it is best to make fresh cinnamon powder from sticks every time you need it.
This powder can be used in many recipes including pies, tarts, cakes, puddings apart from many home remedies.
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