Cinnamon stick Cassia
The word “cinnamon” commonly refers to several botanical species, including cassia or Chinese cinnamon, which comes from the bark of trees in the laurel family in Southeast Asia. Saveurs du Cachemirs’ cinnamon is harvested in Vietnam, where the trees have a particularly high concentration of the essential oils responsible for the deep, woody aroma of this justly popular spice.
After harvesting in the rainy season, bark is nailed to boards and dried in the sun. Higher quality batches of cinnamon use bark from the tree trunk rather than the branches, as this is more fragrant. A tip for judging the quality and freshness: If you bite into the wood, you will feel a twinge on the tongue. Cinnamon has been used in Chinese medicine for over 5000 years and is known as the “tree of life” – it is said to have antiseptic and bactericidal effects. It stimulates the circulatory, respiratory and cardiac systems and helps with flatulence and digestive problems.
Cinnamon is incredibly versatile and finds its way into all sorts of stews, sauces, curries, gingerbread, cakes, fruit tarts, compotes, jams… In China, cinnamon is an essential ingredient in the “Five Spice Blend”, and in North Africa it is used in Ras el Hanout among other things. In Europe and the United States, it is mainly used in desserts – although Arnaud’s grandmother always liked to throw a stick of it into her legendary boeuf bourguignon. In Mexico, on the other hand, cinnamon is often brewed together with coffee.
Another tip from India and China: Ginger water is old news, so make yourself some cinnamon water! Just chuck a stick of cinnamon into a glass of water and you’ll soon be able to detect a slightly spicy aroma – apparently it also helps with losing weight. If you’ve used a cinnamon stick in a compote, take it out, wash it under running water, dry it in the sun. Then just use it again in soups, sauces, or in a water carafe. You’ll be amazed just how much flavour and aroma these little rinds pack even on the second round.
Last note: If you have cooked the stick in a stew with a lot of garlic, you may not want to use it in your apple compote after.