Cinnamon–A Magical Difference

A Buyer’s Guide to Cinnamon

On my book shelf at home is a battered old cook book with some of the best recipes.  I don’t recall the author right now or the title.  I do recall what the author states:

“There is nothing that will make such a magical difference in your baking as really good cinnamon.”

She’s right.  I’ve proven it.  I often double the cinnamon in my recipes and it makes a real difference.

Three Types of Cinnamon

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.

Korintje cassia is less expensive than other cinnamons 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.)

I use this about 60% of the time.  I use the very best cinnamon that I can find.

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 much more fragrant and will remind you of cinnamon oil.

I use this about 30% of the time.  It is my favorite cinnamon for apple pies.  I love the hint of cinnamon oil in my apple pies.  This is so different and distinctive that I would not be without it.

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.

I use this only occasionally—in buttery pastries for example.  The flavor is delightful but it is not strong enough to compete against many flavors.

So which do you buy?

I keep all three on hand so that I can match the cinnamon to my recipe or my desired results.

You should have a really good Korintje cassia on hand for most recipes.  Once you try Vietnamese, you’ll never be without it.  Ceylon cinnamon, I think is optional.