March 23, 2011

Spices and Herbs - Cinnamon


Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of various evergreen trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. It has a warm and aromatic flavor and fragrance is sweet and woody in both ground and stick forms
True Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka
It is the most common baking spice Cinnamon has been popular since ancient times. Egyptians imported it from China in 2000 BC.  In ancient Egypt cinnamon was used medicinally and as a flavoring for beverages. It was also used in embalming, where body cavities were filled with spiced preservatives. In the ancient world cinnamon was more precious than gold. The part of the plant used is the bark

Culinary Uses
It is the most common baking spice.
Cinnamon is used more in dessert dishes. It is commonly used in cakes and other baked goods, milk and rice puddings, chocolate dishes and fruit desserts, particularly apples and pears.
It is common in many Middle Eastern and North African dishes, in flavoring lamb tagines or stuffed aubergines.
In American cooking, Cinnamon is often paired with apples and used in other fruit and cereal dishes.
Stick Cinnamon is used in pickling and for flavoring hot beverages.
It is used in curries and pilaus and in garam masala.
It may be used to spice mulled wines, creams and syrups.
The largest importer of Sri Lankan cinnamon is Mexico, where it is drunk with coffee and chocolate and brewed as a tea.

Medicinal Purposes
Cinnamon is carminative, astringent, stimulant, antiseptic.
It is more powerful as a local than as a general stimulant.
It stops vomiting, relieves flatulence, and given with chalk and astringents is useful for diarrhea and hemorrhage of the womb.
Because of its mild astringency, it is particularly useful in infantile diarrhea.
Recent studies have determined that consuming as little as one-half teaspoon of Cinnamon
each day may reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels by as much as twenty percent in Type II diabetes patients.
It is used to treat nausea and flatulence.
Cinnamon is a great remedy for people with cold feet and hands, especially at night.
The cinnamaldehyde component is hypotensive and spasmolytic, and increases peripheral blood flow.

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