A bit of news that may surprise you:
The spice you know as cinnamon—the one you sprinkle on sugared toast and into cookie and cake batters; the one that adds depth to curries and bite to marinades—may not be real cinnamon at all!
It may be from a tree called cassia, which originated in Southern China and is also known as Chinese cinnamon.
There are several subspecies that are now widely grown across Eastern and Southern Asia.
While professionals distinguish between cassia and true cinnamon, to the consumer, what is often sold as ground cinnamon is cassia.
Cassia curls into sticks and is cheaper than true cinnamon. You can’t tell the difference when it’s ground—so what you purchase as ground cinnamon is often cassia.
The aromas and flavors are similar, but not identical. However…the finest cinnamon in the world Saigon cinnamon, a cassia, has superior flavor and aroma and is considered the best cinnamon in the world
So when you buy cinnamon sticks, you may not care if they’re cassia.
For home cooking, they’ll deliver much of the same result*.
Learn more about the differences between cassia and cinnamon—and the best ways to cook and bake with both—in our complete review of this complex spice and its history.
You know how to cook with cinnamon. But do you know how to drink it?
Try the Cinnamon Cider Martini, one of our favorite spicy cocktails.
*Both Ceylon and cassia are healthy and delicious spices. However, people who to consume large amounts of it, e.g. as a supplement, need to take real cinnamon. Cassia can be harmful because of its coumarin content. High doses of coumarin have been shown to cause cancerous tumors.
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