Cinnamon (/ˈsɪnəmən/ sin-ə-mən) is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. The term “cinnamon” also refers to its mid-brown color. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon“, most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as “cassia” to distinguish them from “true cinnamon”.
Cinnamon is the name for perhaps a dozen species of trees and the commercial spice products that some of them produce. All are members of the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. Only a few of them are grown commercially for spice.
The English word “cinnamon”, attested in English since the 15th century, derives from the Greek κιννάμωμον kinnámōmon (later kínnamon), via Latin and medieval Frenchintermediate forms. The Greek was borrowed from a Phoenician word, which was akin to the related Hebrew cinnamon.
The name “cassia”, first recorded in English around AD 1000, was borrowed via Latin and ultimately derives from Hebrew q’tsīʿāh, a form of the verb qātsaʿ, “to strip off bark”.
Early Modern English also used the names Cornell and Canella, akin to the current names of cinnamon in several other European languages, which are derived from the Latin cannellaword, a diminutive of Canaan, “tube”, from the way the bark curls up as it dries
Flavor, aroma, and taste
The flavor of cinnamon is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5 to 1% of its composition. This essential oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in sea water, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde orcinnamaldehyde (about 90% of the essential oil from the bark) and, by reaction with oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and forms resinous compounds. Other chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol (found mostly in the leaves), beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol