Cinnamon Sticks - 250g
When we think of cinnamon, we usually conjure up images such as warm just-baked cinnamon biscuits, hot milk or cocoa sprinkled with cinnamon or a homemade apple pie containing sweet pieces of apple dusted with cinnamon and drizzled with homemade custard.
Cinnamon is an aromatic and warm spice that is available in two forms - the cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon powder.
The spice is actually obtained from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. The bark is stripped from the tree and allowed to dry in the sun. Whilst drying, it rolls up into a quill and this is what we know as a cinnamon stick. Some of the quills are then ground down into a power and this is what we know as ground cinnamon.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices around. It was mentioned in ancient Chinese writings of at least 2700 years old and also features several times in the Bible. The Egyptians imported cinnamon from China and used it not only as a medicine and food enhancer but also as an embalming agent. It was considered as precious as gold by many.
For the Romans cinnamon was just as sacred and important. It was burned at funerals and it is said that the Emperor Nero burnt a whole years supply at the funeral of his wife Poppaea.
Cinnamon was one of the first spices to be traded between Asia and Europe and the fact that Venetian merchants controlled the entire cinnamon trade in Europe fuelled other European explorers to travel afar in search of other ways of obtaining the precious spice.
After the Portuguese discovered Sri Lanka (Ceylon) at the end of the 15th century and took control of the cinnamon trade there, the Dutch removed them from power a century later, followed by the British in 1796. Since then the importance of the cinnamon trade declined, as cinnamon began to be produced and cultivated in other areas.
Cinnamon is probably best well known medicinally for two main reasons. First of all cinnamon is highly antiseptic. This due to the high content of phenol and means that cinnamon can be used as a very effective mouthwash. Secondly, as it is a warming spice, it is often very useful as a cold or flu remedy.
Other therapeutic properties of cinnamon include the following: