First of all, cinnamon quills are not picked of a tree, nor do they grow in the ground. Cinnamon is the bark of a tree and undergoes many steps until you have the aromatic spice beloved for its warm and comforting flavor.
In this blog post, we will explore the process of harvesting Ceylon cinnamon, shed light on its unique qualities, and delve into the reasons behind its premium price. Additionally, we will unravel the differences between Ceylon cinnamon and its more common but unhealthy counterpart, cassia cinnamon.
Harvesting Ceylon Cinnamon: A Labor of Love
The original tools used for the harvesting process in Sri Lanka
The Ceylon Cinnamon Tree
Ceylon cinnamon, scientifically known as Cinnamomum verum or "true cinnamon," is derived from the bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree. These trees, native to Sri Lanka, thrive in warm and humid tropical climates, making the island nation the primary producer of this exquisite spice. If you look for original ceylon cinnamon, make sure its from Sri Lanka!
The process of harvesting Ceylon cinnamon is a delicate and labor-intensive process that requires precision and care.
Early morning at 6 am the harvest starts when the farmers go into the field to select the right trees.
Selecting the Perfect Branch
Harvesting process involves carefully selecting the branches from which the bark will be harvested. Skilled farmers identify branches that are at an optimal stage of growth – not too young or too old – ensuring the best quality cinnamon. This attention plays a big part to the distinctive flavor and aroma that Ceylon cinnamon is known for.
Next, the outer bark is scraped off, unfortunately there are many farmers who don't take this part supreme, in order to have more weight to sell off at the end....unlucky for the consumers, as exactly this outer bark, contains the highest amount of coumarin which is not healthy at all.
Peeling the Bark
Once the branches are selected, the next step is to peel the outer bark from the inner bark. Workers use special shaped tools to gently separate the layers without damaging the delicate inner bark.
Skilled workers then use a knife looking similar to a butter knife and a brass pole to gently separate the inner bark from the wooden stem.
This inner bark carefully laid into each other is laid out into the sun. The precision required for this step of laying is one of the factors contributing to the higher cost of Ceylon cinnamon.
Drying and Packaging
After the bark is carefully removed, it is left to dry in the sun. This drying process intensifies the flavor and aroma of the cinnamon. Once dried, the bark is meticulously rolled into quills that we commonly associate with cinnamon sticks. So they end up looking a bit like a cigar when watching the diameter. These quills are then packaged and prepared for distribution.
At Amuura we extend the drying process of our cinnamon quills to avoid the usages of sulfur and to provide 100% chemical free ceylon cinnamon!
Ceylon Cinnamon's Distinctive Qualities
One of the main reasons why Ceylon cinnamon is highly regarded is its refined and complex flavor profile. Compared to cassia cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon boasts a sweeter and more delicate taste with subtle citrus undertones. This makes it a preferred choice for culinary endeavors where the nuance of flavor is crucial.
Aroma and Aesthetics
Ceylon cinnamon also stands out for its exquisite aroma. The aroma is both fragrant and mellow, enhancing the sensory experience of any dish it's added to. Additionally, the elegant appearance of Ceylon cinnamon quills, with their delicate layers and subtle shades, adds a touch of sophistication to both cooking and décor.
Why is Ceylon Cinnamon More Expensive than cassia?
The careful and meticulous process of harvesting Ceylon cinnamon is more labor-intensive compared to the production of cassia cinnamon. The selective branch harvesting, delicate bark peeling, and meticulous drying all contribute to the higher labor costs associated with Ceylon cinnamon production.
Limited Geographic Range
Ceylon cinnamon's restricted cultivation to Sri Lanka adds to its rarity and thus its price. The specific climatic conditions required for the Ceylon cinnamon tree to flourish further limit its growth to a relatively small geographic area.
Premium Quality and Unique Characteristics
The refined flavor, aroma, health benefits and aesthetic appeal of Ceylon cinnamon justify its higher cost. Those who appreciate its distinctive qualities are often willing to pay a premium for an ingredient that elevates their culinary creations.
Watch the full harvest process on our Amuura farm in Sri lanka
Ceylon Cinnamon vs. Cassia Cinnamon
Cassia Cinnamon: The More Common Sibling
Cassia cinnamon, scientifically known as Cinnamomum cassia, is the more commonly available variety of cinnamon. It is harvested from a different species of cinnamon tree and is produced in larger quantities, primarily in China and Indonesia. Cassia cinnamon has a stronger and more intense flavor compared to Ceylon cinnamon, making it suitable for bold and robust dishes.
Flavor and Coumarin Content
One of the significant differences between the two varieties lies in their coumarin content. Coumarin is a natural compound found in cinnamon that can be harmful in high doses. Ceylon cinnamon contains significantly lower levels of coumarin compared to cassia cinnamon, making it a safer option for regular consumption.
Ceylon cinnamon's delicate flavor makes it an ideal choice for desserts, baked goods, and dishes where subtlety is key. On the other hand, cassia cinnamon's robust taste is often preferred in dishes where the spice's presence needs to shine through bold flavors.
In a world of spiced latte, golden milk, cinnamon buns and mulled wine, Ceylon Cinnamon is a must!
Ceylon cinnamon journey from the tropical forests of Sri Lanka to our kitchens is a testament to the dedication and skill of the farmers who nurture and harvest it. The distinctive qualities that set Ceylon cinnamon apart – its refined flavor, delicate aroma, and aesthetic charm – contribute to its higher price point. Ceylon cinnamon's unique attributes make it a beloved and coveted ingredient among chefs and home cooks alike. So, the next time you sprinkle a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon into your favorite dish, remember the intricate process that brought this exquisite spice to your table.