Cinnamon is the perennial favorite ingredient in holiday baking (and, come to think of it, in baking of any kind).
The inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree, cinnamon is one of the few spices that you can eat whole. With its very hot aromatic taste, cinnamon evokes thoughts of wintry holiday treats, Mexican chocolate and exotic food from India, North Africa and the Middle East.
The type of cinnamon most Americans are familiar with is native to southeast Asia (think modern-day Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand).
The more than fifty species of cinnamon are grouped into a handful of types that are largely unknown to even the most discerning cooks in America:
- strong-tasting Vietnam or Saigon cinnamon,
- Indonesian or Korintje cassia cinnamon [tastes most like what Americans are used to],
- and delicately flavored Sri Lanka “true” cinnamon.
At AllSpice, we sell all three different varieties of ground cinnamon: Saigon, Korintje, and Sri Lankan.
Customers often ask, what’s the difference among the cinnamons?
Which one should I use?
Saigon – spicy, sweet and warm. Probably the strongest variety of cinnamon that we offer at AllSpice, it’s the staff favorite for sure. Can have a slightly spicy finish.
Saigon (aka Vietnamese) cinnamon is closely related to Korintje (cassia) cinnamon, and has the highest essential oil content of all our cinnamon varieties. If you ever grab a hot Cinnabon in an airport, it’s Saigon cinnamon you’re tasting.
Saigon cinnamon’s intense spicy-sweet flavor and aroma are prized for use in baking, curries, and candies. With a thick bark that is deep brown, the resulting powdered cinnamon is wonderfully rich in flavor. Spicy yet sweet, perfect for any recipe. An ultra-premium cinnamon!
Korintje – This is the one most Americans are used to, and is the variety you’ll typically find at grocery stores. Sweet, mellow. Sweet and mellow, strong and smooth.
Indonesian Korintje cinnamon comes from cassia, a cinnamon with a thicker bark and a stronger flavor than “true” [Sri Lankan or Ceylon] cinnamon.
Indonesian Korintje cinnamon (pictured at top of this webpage) is smooth, but has a surprising edge. This cinnamon holds the middle ground between AllSpice’s oil-rich, strongly-flavored Saigon cinnamon and our delicately-flavored Sri Lankan cinnamon.
Indonesian Korintje cinnamon is a fantastic flavor for your fancy coffee beverages, for fruit dishes, and rice puddings — really it’s a wonderful, rich cinnamon suited for every recipe and use.
Sri Lanka – The True Cinnamon. Sometimes also called Ceylon Cinnamon, this variety is delicate and subtle.
“True” cinnamon is native to the island of Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, just south of the Indian subcontinent. This cinnamon is prized for its delicate flavor.
Sri Lanka cinnamon has a complex, subtle flavor not found in the more common cassia-type cinnamons.
Its light, delicate flavor makes it the preferred cinnamon in European and Mexican cuisine, as it is not as spicy or sharp as cassia cinnamon. A staple in any pastry chef’s pantry.
Wondering what to do with your cinnamon? Now that you know which kind is which, you’ll want to whip up some tasty treats with it!
We’ve got an extensive list of recipes that range from curries and soups to cakes and cookies. The link to that recipe list is here.