What is Cinnamon? Why is it called “Ceylon Cinnamon”?

A Cinnamon stick from outer appearance looks like a “pencil” or like “crayons”. It is golden brown in color and smells mesmerizing.

Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks

Think of an A4 paper which is rolled inwards till you make a shape like a pencil. Same concept applies for making a cinnamon stick. The outer layer of the trunk (called the “outer dark brown bark”) of the cinnamon tree is scraped off. So now we can see the gold color inner bark. The inner bark is carefully peeled off by a special knife and a special technique in order to remove it out like a A4 paper.

Trunk of a Tree, Outer Bark & Inner Bark
Peeling out the Inner Bark

Finally the A4 paper like cinnamon inner bark is kept in a dry place. When moisture evaporates from the sheet like inner bark, the cinnamon sheet naturally curls inwards and starts to form a stick shape like a pencil. Simply this is the manufacturing process of True Ceylon Cinnamon.

Rolled paper
Peeled inner bark looks like a Sheet
Inner bark rolled inwards and made into a shape of sticks

Technical details of the plantation of cinnamon trees, peeling technique, knife, drying process shall be described in another post.

Adding some technical information to this article as well, The “Ceylon Cinnamon Tree” is botanically named as “Cinnamomum zeylanicum” (New botanical name is “Cinnamomum verum”) and belonging to Lauraceae family.

Why is it called “Ceylon-Cinnamon” without naming it just “Cinnamon”, like in most cases with spices like cloves, black pepper, turmeric, ginger? The answer is, it is specially to differentiate between a look-a-like variety named Cassia sticks. Pure Cinnamon grows in the Island nation of Sri Lanka (formerly known as “Ceylon” under the British empire as they ruled Sri Lanka till 1948). Simply Cassia is not a variety of Cinnamon. It has a slightly similar appearance but a close observation can see the clear differences. Cassia stick has only one hard thick layer rolled inwards. But Ceylon Cinnamon sticks have so many soft thin layers rolled inwards and banded together. Cassia grows in abundance and Ceylon Cinnamon grown only in a limited land area. Therefore in the world retail grocery market Cassia is labeled as Cinnamon for marketing purposes and it is lower in price. Ceylon Cinnamon on the other hand is not produced in massive scale and is not available in large quantities (relative to Cassia production) in retail market places, and is quire expensive. The difference in color, health benefits will be covered in a different article.

Ceylon Cinnamon Vs Cassia
1.Cassia – Thick single sheet | 2.Ceylon Cinnamon – Thin soft multiple sheets rolled together

Ceylon Cinnamon is also referred to as “Pure Cinnamon”, “True Cinnamon”, “Sri Lankan Cinnamon” to strike out the confusion caused by the retail store labelling.

Hope you had an overall beginner level understanding about “THE STICK”. The magic stick from the spicy island Sri Lanka had caste a fascination over the world for more than 5000 years, with its power of fragrance, medicinal goodness, preservative quality and lip-smacking delight.

The Magic Sticks – Fragrant & Sweet

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