Not All Cinnamons are Created Equal

I’m writing this post because I want to call your attention to the fact that not all cinnamon is the same. I want to make you more aware of this when you buy your cinnamon because the taste between different kinds is, in my opinion, massively different – as is the quality.In the photo above you will find four kinds of cinnamon.

A is Zeylanicum cinnamon, aka Ceylon or ‘true’ cinnamon.
 is a Korintje Cassia cinnamon.
C and D are both sub-types of Cassia cinnamon: C. is called ‘Chinese cinnamon’ and D is Java cinnamon. Both from the Cassia family.

You may notice that they all come in different shades of brown – ranging from a pale brown (A and D) to a redder brown (B) to a darker brown (C).

To me, A, C and D are spicier, more peppery cinnamons (good in meats and savory foods) whereas B is slightly milder. It’s sweeter. 

Some cinnamons don’t say what kind they are though, either because they are blends or because the people packaging them don’t care about this too much – their label just says ‘Ingredient: cinnamon’.
If you don’t care that much about your cinnamon then it won’t matter – hey, it’s still cinnamon. But if you do, then look for one that goes into a little more detail.

There have been many studies, articles, and reports claiming that one kind of cinnamon is superior to another.  Please note a lot of these articles are overly sensationalist though so comb through them with care. If you want an easy-to-read general overview, this post by LiveStrong is useful. So is this one published by the WSJ. If you want more of an academic/medical overview of different cinnamons in the context of their coumarin content though, check out this paper.

My take-home message is this: pay attention to your cinnamons. Smell them, taste them, close your eyes and smell them again, taste them again, and try different types. An entire world of cinnamon complexity (and flavor possibilities) will open up before you!

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