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Facts about Cinnamon

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Most of the cinnamon sold in supermarkets in the United States is actually cassia.

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Sri Lanka cinnamon is a very thin smooth bark, with a light-yellowish brown color, a highly fragrant aroma.

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Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years and then coppicing it.

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Cinnamon also is alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers.

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Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice.

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Cinnamon was was commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, and the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's supply of cinnamon at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina, in 65 C.E.

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Cassia bark (both powdered and in whole, or "stick" form) is used as a flavoring agent, for candies, desserts, baked goods, and meat; it is specified in many curry recipes, where cinnamon is less suitable.

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The name cinnamon is correctly used to refer to Ceylon cinnamon, C. verum, also known as "true cinnamon."

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Egyptian recipes for kyphi, an aromatic used for burning, included cinnamon and cassia from Hellenistic times onwards.

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Most of the spice sold as cinnamon in the United States and Canada (where true cinnamon is still generally unknown) is actually cassia from C. aromaticum (or C. cassia).

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Cassia's flavor, however, is less delicate than that of true cinnamon; for this reason the less expensive cassia is sometimes called "bastard cinnamon."

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Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath.

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According to Plutarch, just before the sailing of the ships an eclipse of the moon frightened the crews, but Pericles used the astronomical knowledge he had acquired from Anaxagoras to calm them.

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Cinnamon also is mentioned in Proverbs 7:17-18, where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloe, and cinnamon.

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The phoenix builds its nest from cinnamon and cassia.

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Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity, and it was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and other great potentates.

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Cinnamon, which has played a very important historical role, tracing to ancient empires and trade between nations, is principally used to provide flavor to food.

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The gifts of Hellenistic rulers to temples sometimes included cassia and cinnamon as well as incense, myrrh, and Indian incense (kostos), so we can conclude that the Greeks used it in this way too.

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According to Food and Agriculture Organization, Indonesia produced almost 40% of the world cinnamon (canella) output in 2005 followed by China, India, and Vietnam.

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Cassia is sometimes added to true cinnamon but is a much thicker, coarser product.

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European health agencies recently have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia, generally known just as cinnamon in U.S. markets, due to a toxic component called coumarin (Harris 2007).

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The name cinnamon comes from Greek kinnбm?mon, from Phoenician and akin to Hebrew qinnвmфn, itself ultimately from a Malaysian language (cf.

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Popularly labelled simply as cinnamon or as Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum (synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree 10-15 meters (32.8-49.2 feet) tall, which is native to Sri Lanka and Southern India.

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According to Herodotus, both cinnamon and cassia grow in Arabia, together with incense, myrrh, and ladanum, and are guarded by winged serpents.

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True cinnamon is also sometimes confused with Cinnamomum tamala (Malabathrum).

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Cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, and the tree also is grown commercially at Tellicherry in southern India, Java, Sumatra, the West Indies, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Egypt.

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Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices which can be consumed directly.

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Cinnamon is also used as an insect repellent (Beck 2006).

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Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be less strong than cassia.

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Portuguese traders finally discovered Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the end of the fifteenth century, and restructured the traditional production of cinnamon by the salagama caste.

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