WHAT IS CINNAMON?
This spice is ground from the dried inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree whose name sounds like a sci fi movie – “Cinnamomum.” First popular in Egypt over 4,000 years ago, this spice has transcended being a mere flavor description and is now also a fancy way to say that something looks brown. There are 2 types of this spice, Ceylon and Chinese. As befits the name, most of the world’s supply today is harvested in Asia. It’s warm, sweet flavor makes it a popular ingredient in both savory and sweet cuisine.
WHY IS CINNAMON GOOD FOR YOU?
These rolled-up “quills” were used as medicine for thousands of years. The cinnaldehyde present in this bark prevents blood from clotting. Also it’s both an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial (stops bacterial and fungal growth) agent. And this spice is a great source of fiber, calcium and manganese. Even smelling cinnamon has been shown to improve cognitive ability in lab tests.
WHEN IS CINNAMON IN SEASON?
This crop can be harvested year-round. Though in poorer areas farmers will harvest a few spare trees when they’re low on cash. It takes for about 10 years for a tree to be mature enough to yield a good quantity of cinnamon though they can grow up to 60 feet (18 meters) in height. And when cut down, their stumps will re-grow new trees!
HOW SHOULD CINNAMON BE STORED?
Whether in quill or powder form, store it as you do with most spices. Keep it away from any moisture or light and it’s safe to store in your kitchen cupboard.
IS THE “CINNAMON CHALLENGE” DEADLY?
In 2016 this popular YouTube challenge involved eating a whole spoonful of dry cinnamon powder. What most people didn’t realize were the number of hospital emergency room visits that followed. Nosebleeds, burned airways, vomiting and not being able to breathe were all common symptoms (in addition to choking and lunging for water). Part of the reason that this dare is so difficult is that it triggers an involuntary gag reflex.