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Jewish Recipes --> Spices and Ingredients -- > Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, and its origin was mysterious in Europe until the sixteenth century.

Nomenclature and taxonomy

The name cinnamon comes from Phoenician and Hebrew through the Greek kinnŠmōmon. In Malayalam, it is called Karuva. In Tamil, it is called பட்டை Pattai.

In many other, particularly European, languages it has a name akin to French cannelle, diminutive of canne (reed, cane) from its tube-like shape.

In Persian, it is called darchin (دارچین) (literally meaning taken/picked from tree). In Turkish, it is called "TarÁın". In Telugu, it is called Dalchini chekka (దాల్చిన చెక్క). In Kannada, it is called Chakke.

In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra, it is called kayu manis ("sweet wood") and sometimes cassia vera, the "real" cassia. In Sri Lanka, in the original Sinhala, cinnamon is known as kurundu , recorded in English in the 17th century as Korunda. In Arabic it is called qerfa (قرفة).

Also see: To you Health - Cinnamon

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Flavor, aroma and taste

The flavor of cinnamon is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This essential oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in sea water, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odour of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 90% of the essential oil from the bark) and, by reaction with oxygen as it ages, it darkens in colour and forms resinous compounds. Other chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol (found mostly in the leaves), beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.[citation needed]

Cinnamon bark

Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of cinnamon. It is also used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is more suitable for use in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, it is often used in savoury dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavour cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Shole-zard, Persian شله زرد). It is also used in sambar powder or BisiBelebath powder in Karnataka, which gives it a rich aroma and unique taste. It is also used in Turkish cuisine for both sweet and savoury dishes.

Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. Of the compounds found in the essential oil from cinnamon leaves, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, and in particular cinnamaldehyde, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.

History of Cinnamon

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