How to choose the right cinnamon
The right cinnamon can add new dimension to your recipes. Use these tips to make the best choice the next time you open your spice cabinet.
Step 1: Educate yourself
You can't choose the right cinnamon if you don't understand the differences in cinnamon varieties. Here's a quick rundown on what you need to know:
The only true cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon. Interestingly, it's not what most westerners think of when they hear the word "cinnamon." True Ceylon cinnamon looks more like a rolled cigar than a rolled scroll, and it's flaky and brittle to touch. The flavor of true cinnamon is more smooth and complex than western varieties, often carrying notes of pine, citrus and floral.
Western cinnamon is actually cassia. There are a few varieties of cassia cinnamon, but each dries into the familiar scroll-like roll with a hard outer shell. The three main types of cassia are separated by region and include the following:
- Chinese: a notably sweet aroma
- Indonesian: tends to ball and clump when added to liquid; very strong Red-Hots flavor
- Vietnamese: really high percentage of essential oils, very strong, but without the red hot bite
Step 2: Know your needs
If you know what type of cinnamon flavor you're after, choosing the right cinnamon is a cinch. While there's never a wrong type of cinnamon to use, your personal flavor preferences will guide you toward the right choice. Think about whether you prefer your cinnamon hot, sweet or a little of each.
If you're planning to add cinnamon to liquid, choose a variety that dissolves easily or creates a smooth paste. The Indonesian cinnamons tend to ball up when added to liquid.
Step 3: Do a taste test
If you're still not 100 percent sure what type of cinnamon to use, purchase small amounts of each and have fun testing them out. This is one of those tests that you'll always pass with flying colors because there are no hard and fast right answers.
For more cooking tips, check out:
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