How to Buy the Cinnamon that’s Right for You

Years ago I read a cookbook written by a baker that I respect.  In her book she said, “Nothing makes a more magical difference in your baking than really good cinnamon.

She’s right.  But really good cocoa makes a magical difference too.

There are three types of cinnamon to consider: Korintje Cassia cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, and Sri Lankan or Ceylon cinnamon.

Korintje cassia cinnamon comes from Indonesia, usually Sumatra. It comes from the cassia tree, not the true cinnamon tree, and is the cinnamon we are most familiar with.

Good quality Korintje cassia is sweet and mellow. Lower quality cinnamon, the B and C grades commonly sold in the stores, is often bitter and astringent. You can tell the difference by tasting it. Dab a little on your finger and put it in your mouth. Premium Korintje cassia cinnamon will be smooth with an almost citrus tone.   Cheap cinnamon is unpleasant.

Vietnamese cinnamon also come from the cassia tree but it has a very different tone resulting in a different experience when baked. Botanically, it is the same but is harvested and processed differently resulting in the different flavor. It is stronger and spicier with more cinnamon oil flavor.  It is delightful in apple and pumpkin pies and desserts.

Ceylon cinnamon is true cinnamon coming from the cinnamon tree. In some parts of the world, it is preferred over cassia cinnamons. It is less pronounced in flavor and has a more citrus overtone.

So which do you buy? We recommend all three so that you can match the distinctive flavors to recipes that you are using and the result you are trying to attain.

Korintje cassia is less expensive and can be very good. Be certain that you buy premium or grade A cinnamon. Look for the volatile oil content; that’s what gives cinnamon its flavor. It should have at least 2% volatile oil. (The cinnamon that we sell does.)

Keep in mind that cinnamon will lose its potency. As it becomes older, you may have to use more of it to get the same flavor in your goods. We recommend buying what you can use in a year.

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