Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
True cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon comes from the true cinnamon tree or Ceylon cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum verum. It is a small evergreen tree of the Lauraceae family, indigenous to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon can be also found with the botanical name Cinnamomum zeylanicum, derived from the former name of Sri Lanka, ''Ceylon'' when it was part of the British Crown colony.
True cinnamon comes from the same family as Cassia cinnamon does, but it is not the same. Often products are mislabeled as ''cinnamon'' when they are in fact cassia.
True cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon is harvested during the rainy seasons. The harvesters stripe off pieces of bark and these peels are rolled into large quills and left to dry. When the drying process is over, the quills are cut into small pieces to be packaged. The quills of true cinnamon have a tanned soft brown color and form many rolled layers inside them, instead of Cassia which has one ore two simple curls with a reddish brown color. True cinnamon is pale in color. Grades of true cinnamon with a paler color have the finest quality. When bought ground, it is best bought in small quantities, kept in an airtight jar, as its aroma evaporates overtime.
True cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon contains eugenol essential oil which gives it a distinctive aroma that resembles the aroma of clover. Its taste is sweet and woody, warmer than the taste of cassia. True cinnamon has a milder aroma and taste than cassia but it is an excellent spice to be added in delicate dessert recipes.
Ground true cinnamon goes well with orange, apples, figs and chocolate. It is an excellent tonic when used to spice up hot chocolate drinks. It makes an excellent combination with cocoa and coffee. True cinnamon can be used the same way as Cassia cinnamon, although it has a less pungent profile. It is good in savory dishes such as meat and vegetable casserole recipes, braised beef, rabbit or hare stew.
Ground true or ceylon cinnamon can be combined with ground cloves, ground cardamom, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, star anise and ground cumin.