Cinnamomum verum

Cinnamomum verum

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum J.Presl, left C. zeylanicum Blume) is an evergreen tree belonging to the Lauraceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Order Laurales, Family Lauraceae and therefore to the Genus Cinnamomum and to the Specie C. verum.
The term Cinnamomum zeylanicum is synonymous.

Etymology –
The term Cinnamomum derives from the Greek κιννᾰμωμον cinnámomon cinnamon, cinnamomo. The specific epithet verum derives from true, genuine, correct, original.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Cinnamomum verum is a plant native to Sri Lanka, from which cinnamon is obtained, a spice spread in Europe as well as in Asia. This plant has been introduced in several tropical countries, such as Madagascar, Malaysia and Antilles. It is also produced in Vietnam, Sumatra and Indonesia.

Description –
The Cinnamomum verum is an evergreen tree species that can reach 10-15 m in height. The leaves are opposite, oval and elongated, which can reach 18 cm in length and 5 cm in width. The flowers are white and gathered in inflorescences. The fruit is a drupe that contains a seed without egg white.

Cultivation –
Cinnamon plants, being native to the tropical zone, prefer an environment where the temperature is constantly high and the humidity is always present. For the cultivation technique you can consult the following sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
With the term of cinnamon they are equally called the product obtained from two different plants. The two most frequently used as spices are Cinnamomum verum and Cinnamomum cassia.
Cinnamon has a thousand-year history; we find it quoted in the Bible, in the book of Exodus, it was used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming and also mentioned in the Greek and Latin world. Its importation in the West takes momentum especially in the Middle Ages thanks to caravans. It was at the hands of the Dutch, around the mid-1600s, that stable traffic was established with Sri Lanka to become the main importers of Europe.
Cinnamon, unlike other cooking drugs, is not obtained from the seed or the fruit, but from the stem and the twigs that take on the usual conformation of small parchment. The inner part of the bark of the young branches is used after having removed it from the cork and dried. The quality of the cinnamon depends on the age of the cinnamon branches from which it is obtained; the more the branches are young the more the drug is estimated. Cinnamon can be sold in this form and crumbled at the time of use, or sold in powder form.
From the cinnamon, an essential oil is also obtained by macerating the bark in sea water and distilling it. The amber liquid obtained from it contains about 90% of cinnamic aldehyde and is used more frequently as a medicinal principle than as a cooking spice. The essential oil of cinnamon has a strong antifungal activity and promotes the peripheral circulation if rubbed on the skin.
Cinnamon has a different use also according to the traditions and the eras. In the Western tradition it is used in fruit desserts, especially apples, in the processing of chocolate, sweets and pralines, as an aroma in creams, whipped cream, meringue, ice cream and numerous liqueurs. In the oriental one, but also in some Sicilian recipes, it is also used in salty, in accompaniment of smoked and non smoked meats. Both love it as a tea flavoring.
Cinnamon has an antioxidant power (ORAC) among the highest, an index about 62 times that of the apple, considered for its part an excellent antioxidant that contains tannins, cinnamic aldehyde in essential oil, eugenol (over 50 aromatic and terpenic compounds) , camphor.
In the therapeutic field it is used against colds and as an antibacterial and antispasmodic; today it is recognized, even with scientific tests, the ability to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, helping to alleviate hypertension disorders. There are many researches today to evaluate a series of positive effects on certain diseases.
In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine it is used for menstrual problems, in the treatment of fevers, in some intestinal disorders and against cold because it has a warming effect.

Preparation Mode –
Both sticks and cinnamon powder retain their aroma when stored in well-closed glass jars away from sources of heat and light. The best preservation of the aroma is however with sticks.
Thanks to its strong and pleasant aroma, the cinnamon, after being reduced to powder, is used in the kitchen to flavor cooked fruit, puddings, tea and mulled wine. Cinnamon is also used in some savory dishes; in Sicilian cuisine it is also used in meat.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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