Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices. It is said to have been used as such in China and India as early as 2000 BC. Today, cinnamon plays a major role, especially in the cold winter season. In European cuisine, cinnamon is mainly used to flavour cakes, desserts, jams and drinks such as mulled wine.

The two best-known varieties of cinnamon are Cassia and Ceylon. Ceylon cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka (formerly “Ceylon”) and Cassia cinnamon from China. Both varieties differ in aroma, appearance and also in price. The more expensive Ceylon cinnamon is considered to have a finer aroma, while Cassia is stronger and slightly sweet.




Summary

  • In general, a distinction is usually made between the high-quality Ceylon cinnamon and the cheaper but also unhealthier Cassia cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon consists of a single thick, rolled bark layer of the cassia tree, whereas Ceylon cinnamon is rolled up from several thin inner barks of the Ceylon cinnamon tree.
  • Due to the sometimes high coumarin content, only a limited amount of cinnamon should be taken.

The best Cinnamon Sticks: Our Picks

In this section we have compiled our favourites for you, which can help you to make a purchase decision. There will be a suitable cinnamon stick for every need. These can then also be ordered very easily.

Buying and evaluation criteria for Cinnamon Sticks

To help you with your purchase of a cinnamon stick, we have listed the most important buying criteria. These are as follows:

Now we explain what to look for in these criteria so you can make a well-informed decision.

Packaging size

Cinnamon sticks cannot be stored forever. Package sizes vary from small amounts of 25g to 1kg packages.

Therefore, it is best to think about what you will use the cinnamon for and how often you will use it in the kitchen before you buy. This will help you determine the optimal package size for you. Don’t automatically be tempted by quantity discounts.

Origin

As explained above, there are big differences between Ceylon cinnamon and Cassio cinnamon. Therefore, for many cinnamon lovers, the origin of their product plays a major role.

Ceylon cinnamon is a scarce and expensive commodity worldwide, which is why 100% pure Ceylon cinnamon originating in Sri Lanka carries a certain prestige. Some brands currently also produce in Germany, which offers a great advantage in terms of sustainability.

Coumarin content

Coumarin is a natural flavouring substance that can cause problems in large quantities. For this reason, it plays a major role in cinnamon sticks and must definitely be taken into account. Ceylon cinnamon is usually uncritical in terms of coumarin, as only low to almost no coumarin levels are detectable.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has set a maximum tolerable daily dose of 0.1mg coumarin per kilogram of body weight. Increased intake of coumarin can lead to headaches, dizziness or vomiting and cause liver problems.

Ekelle grade

The Ekelle grade is a unit for assessing the quality of cinnamon. It is awarded depending on the colour and fineness of the freshly harvested cinnamon rolls. The best quality is rated with Ekelle 00000. First, a 0 is subtracted from each grade until it progresses from 0 through I to V.

Organic seal of approval

Many brands offer organic certified cinnamon sticks. These are very popular with buyers, as more and more emphasis is being placed on organic and sustainability.

People who are consciously looking for original, 100% pure Ceylon cinnamon place so much value on impeccable quality that they are willing to pay an extra €1-2/100g. A Fairtrade label or products marked as vegan also increase the willingness to buy.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about cinnamon sticks answered in detail

In this section we explain the most frequently asked questions about cinnamon sticks so that you are sufficiently informed when you want to buy cinnamon sticks.

What types of cinnamon sticks are there?

The two best-known types of cinnamon are Cassia (from Sri Lanka) and Ceylon (from China). Both varieties differ in aroma, appearance and also in price.

Cinnamon sticks are the bark of a tree. (Image source: Uriel Soberanes/ Unsplash)

Ceylon cinnamon is often referred to as the true or original cinnamon. Unlike cassia cinnamon, it contains hardly any coumarin, which makes it harmless. It is made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. The thinner the bark, the finer and more aromatic the cinnamon flavour. In addition, the more expensive Ceylon cinnamon is considered to have a finer aroma. Cassia, on the other hand, is stronger and slightly sweet.

Where do cinnamon sticks grow?

Cinnamon is the bark of an evergreen tropical tree. Cinnamon sticks consist of fermented and rolled up layers of cinnamon bark. The processing from cinnamon bark to cinnamon stick is done by hand. Cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Madagascar.

How do you harvest cinnamon sticks?

To obtain cinnamon bark, the cinnamon trees are regularly cut back severely. They then form many thinner shoots and grow as 2 to 3 m high bushes. The cinnamon bark is obtained from 2-year-old shoots that are harvested when they are two centimetres thick.

The outer bark is then scraped off and the remaining inner bark is rolled until it can be easily removed. First, however, the fine cinnamon bark is left to ferment in the shade, which gives it its aroma, and then dried in the sun so that it turns cinnamon brown. The resulting pieces of zeylon cinnamon bark curl up on both sides as they dry, and are inserted into each other in several layers.

What is the shelf life of cinnamon sticks?

Cinnamon sticks can be stored in a cool and dry place for up to 4 years. In powder form, they can be stored for another 2 years. For this reason, proper storage is very important. Here are some nice ways to spice up your kitchen with your cinnamon sticks.

Conclusion

Cinnamon is a very versatile spice that you can use for many different things. However, there are a few points that need to be considered.

With cinnamon sticks, it is particularly important to pay attention to the quality and origin, as they are crucial for the coumarin content, which in turn can have a negative effect on your health. The size of the pack also plays a big role, as you should not store your cinnamon sticks for too long. Therefore, adapt your sizes to your intention.

(Cover photo: pixabay / Daria Yakovlev)

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