AskDefine | Define cinnamon

Dictionary Definition



1 aromatic bark used as a spice [syn: cinnamon bark]
2 tropical Asian tree with aromatic yellowish-brown bark; source of the spice cinnamon [syn: Ceylon cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum zeylanicum]
3 spice from the dried aromatic bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree; used as rolled strips or ground

User Contributed Dictionary



From , from sc=polytonic, from etyl phn, cognate with Hebrew ().


  • a UK /ˈsɪn.æ.mən/|/ˈsɪn.ə.mən/, /"sIn.

Extensive Definition

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree 10–15 meters (32.8–49.2 feet) tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, and is native to Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. The bark is widely used as a spice due to its distinct odour.
The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7–18 cm (2.75–7.1 inches) long. The flowers, which are arranged in panicles, have a greenish color, and have a distinct odor. The fruit is a purple one-centimetre berry containing a single seed.
Its flavour is due to an aromatic essential oil which makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow colour, with the characteristic odour of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in colour and develops resinous compounds. Chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, beta-caryophyllene, linalool and methyl chavicol.
The name cinnamon comes from Greek kinnámōmon, itself ultimately from Phoenician. The botanical name for the spice—Cinnamomum zeylanicum—is derived from Sri Lanka's former name, Ceylon.


Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity, and it was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and other great potentates. Cinnamon is native to the Indian subcontinent. This is contained in much lower dosages in Cinnamomum burmannii due to its low essential oil content. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. True Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of Coumarin.
The two barks, when whole, are easily distinguished, and their microscopic characteristics are also quite distinct. Cinnamon sticks (or quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian Cassia (Cinnamomum burmannii) is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon Cassia (Cinnamomum loureiroi) and Chinese Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum) are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills. It is a bit harder to tell powdered cinnamon from powdered cassia. When powdered bark is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible in the case of pure cinnamon of good quality, but when cassia is present a deep-blue tint is produced, the intensity of the coloration depending on the proportion of cassia.
Cinnamon is also sometimes confused with Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala) and Saigon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi).


Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavouring material, being largely used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts, chocolate, spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa and liqueurs. In the Middle East, it is often used in savoury dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavour cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Long known in Persia, Cinnamon powder is a very important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks & sweets, often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder in case of stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Sholezard Per. شله زرد)
In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity. The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties, which can aid in the preservation of certain foods.
"Cinnamon" has been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of type II diabetes and Insulin Resistance. However, the plant material used in the study was most from cassia and only few of them are truly from Cinnamomum zeylanicum (see cassia's medicinal uses for more information about its health benefits)., . Recent advancement in phytochemistry has shown that it is a cinnamtannin B1 isolated from C. zeylanicum, which is of theraputic effect on type II diabetes with the exception for the postmenopausal patients studied on C. cassia . Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion.
Cinnamon is used in the system of Thelemic Magick for the invocation of Apollo, according to the correspondences listed in Aleister Crowley's work Liber 777. In Hoodoo, it is a multipurpose ingredient used for purification, luck, love and money.
Cinnamon is also used as an insect repellent.
It is reported that regularly drinking of Cinnamomum zeylanicum tea made from the bark could be beneficial to oxidative stress related illness in humans, as the plant part contains significant antioxidant potent .
Cinnamon has also yielded results of improving brain function, when chewing it, or even just smelling:
"...a recent research study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Services in Sarasota, FL, found that merely smelling cinnamon or chewing cinnamon-flavored gum actually enhanced multiple areas of brain processing and function; everything from memory to visual-motor speed to recognition to attention & focus? In fact, the results were so promising that multiple research studies underway are testing cinnamon for its potential effects on enhancing cognition in the elderly, people with "test anxiety", and possible benefits for people with cognitive diseases."



External links

cinnamon in Arabic: دارصيني على الحقيقة
cinnamon in Bulgarian: Канела
cinnamon in Catalan: Canyella (espècia)
cinnamon in Czech: Skořice
cinnamon in Danish: Kanel
cinnamon in German: Zimt
cinnamon in Estonian: Kaneel
cinnamon in Spanish: Cinnamomum verum
cinnamon in Esperanto: Cinamo
cinnamon in Persian: دارچین
cinnamon in French: Cannelle (écorce)
cinnamon in Scottish Gaelic: Caineal
cinnamon in Galician: Canela
cinnamon in Upper Sorbian: Skoričnik
cinnamon in Croatian: Cimet
cinnamon in Indonesian: Kayu manis
cinnamon in Italian: Cannella
cinnamon in Hebrew: קינמון
cinnamon in Lithuanian: Cinamonas
cinnamon in Hungarian: Fahéj
cinnamon in Malayalam: കറവപ്പട്ട
cinnamon in Dutch: Kaneel
cinnamon in Japanese: シナモン
cinnamon in Norwegian: Kanel
cinnamon in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kaneltre
cinnamon in Polish: Cynamonowiec
cinnamon in Portuguese: Cinnamomum zeylanicum
cinnamon in Romanian: Scorţişoară
cinnamon in Russian: Корица
cinnamon in Simple English: Cinnamon
cinnamon in Slovenian: Cimet
cinnamon in Serbian: Цимет
cinnamon in Finnish: Ceyloninkaneli
cinnamon in Swedish: Kanel
cinnamon in Tamil: கருவா
cinnamon in Thai: อบเชย
cinnamon in Turkish: Tarçın
cinnamon in Urdu: دار چینی
cinnamon in Chinese: 桂皮
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