A Buyer’s Guide to Cinnamon

When it comes to using cinnamon in baking or cooking, you have to think about the flavor you want for your recipes. Do you want a sweeter cinnamon, a spicier cinnamon, or a more citrusy cinnamon? There are three types of cinnamon to consider: Korintje Cassia cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, and Sri Lankan or Ceylon cinnamon. This guide will discuss all three, so you can decide which is the best cinnamon for your needs.

Korintje Cassia 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 here in the states. Good quality Korintje cassia cinnamon is spicy-sweet and mellow; not too sweet but not biting either.

Cassia cinnamon is a little woodsy with light floral tones and a calm cinnamon flavor, making it a safe go-to choice for cinnamons.

Beware the Lower Grades of Cinnamon

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.

Vietnamese Cinnamon

Vietnamese cinnamon also comes from the cassia tree but it has a very different tone resulting in a different experience when baked. Botanically, it is the same as Korjinte cassia cinnamon, but it’s harvested and processed differently, resulting in the different flavor.

Vietnamese cinnamon is stronger and spicier with more cinnamon oil flavor compared to cassia cinnamon.  It is a warm, fragrant, and woodsy cinnamon.

The Best Time to Use Vietnamese Cinnamon

Vietnamese cinnamon tends to be the only type of cinnamon I will use for apple pies just because the strong aroma and flavor pair so well with the baked apples. It’s also delightful in pumpkin pies and other fruity desserts.

Sri Lankan or Ceylon Cinnamon

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

The Best Time to Use Ceylon Cinnamon

Sri Lankan or Ceylon cinnamon us very mild, so it’s best used in buttery pastries or fine breads where there aren’t a lot of other competing flavors.

Which is the Best Cinnamon to Buy?

We recommend buying all three types of cinnamon, so you can match the distinctive flavors to recipes that you are using and the result you are trying to attain.

Korintje cassia cinnamon 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.)

Considering How Much Cinnamon to Buy

You have probably noticed that you can buy spices in bulk for much less than in small quantities. Handling and packaging is expensive. If you are confident in the quality of the cinnamon you are purchasing, buy it in quantity.

However, 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.

(Updated from May 11, 2014)

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