Saturday, 14 November 2020 12:37

Five ways to use Ceylon Cinnamon

Spices are not only flavors, most of their components can make your life more healthy and tasty. People add spices to their day today food as a tradition, as a habit or as a medicine. But did you know that these spices are the core of many dishes and bakery items as well. Among all those awesome spices Ceylon Cinnamon or True Cinnamon is one of the key players in many dishes. Here are some few best ways where you can use Ceylon Cinnamon in day today life which you can take the maximum benefit of Cinnamon.

The Cinnamon most often found in Super markets is Cassia Cinnamon except in Sri Lanka. But mark my words, you can't compare this Cassia Cinnamon or Fake Cinnamon with Ceylon Cinnamon which also called true Cinnamon. The rich aroma and all the medicinal properties of True Cinnamon will provide your dishes a distinct flavor as well as healthy diet. Here are some ways which and why you can use Ceylon Cinnamon for a healthy life and a tasteful meal.

1. A healthy digestion with Cinnamon
High fiber content in Cinnamon helps you to maintain a better digestive health. Here you can use both Cinnamon Powder and Cinnamon Sticks for your evening tea or with some clean water. You can measure the amount of cinnamon you consume if you use Cinnamon Powder.

2. An answer for Cold and Flu
Cold and flu are the most common illnesses which hit us many times a year. But you can't let them to take your day-off from work. Cinnamon is a better medicine for it. Low coumarin content in Ceylon Cinnamon is ideal as a remedy for cold and flu. You can use Ceylon Cinnamon along with your diet, either to food items or with a beverage. As per your requirement you can use whole sticks, powder or extract. Also a cup of hot water mixed with cinnamon will also control your running nose.

3. As a good remedy for loose your weight
Ceylon Cinnamon helps the weight loss by lowering your cholesterol levels. Here are some ways to add Ceylon Cinnamon to your diet to help weight loss.
- Mix Cinnamon with some honey and lemon and consume daily.
- Take a cinnamon mixed cup of water during the day.
- Add some Cinnamon to your beverages such as coffee, juices or drinks.
- Add some cinnamon to your meal when cooking.
- When consuming oats or cereals add some cinnamon on them.

4. Cinnamon as a better Skin cure.
You can use Ceylon Cinnamon to glow your skin and makes you more youthful. Due to the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of Cinnamon, it aids in enhancing the complexion as well as removal of dead skin and restoring glow of your skin. All you need to do is make a simple scrub using sea salt, olive oil, almond oil, honey and finally Ceylon Cinnamon and use as usual. This will helps to improve your blood flow to the outer surface of your skin as well.

5. Moreover add more cinnamon to your diet because in one table spoon of Cinnamon there are four grams of fiber, zero fat and sugar, 68% of manganese and 8% calcium. So adding Cinnamon to your food can enhance the nutrition levels of the food you consume. Cinnamon will add a unique taste and an extra glamour to your meal for its distinct aroma. Let this grate Sri Lankan Spice to add an extra flavor to your meal while helping you to retain a healthy well-being.

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Published in Ceylon Cinnamon
Tuesday, 10 November 2020 13:41

Spices and Health

Most of the spices are grown and used in South Asian Region of the world. Sri Lanka also plays a major role in spice cultivation and exporting to the market. As the topic above spices are directly combined with the good health of the people living in South Asian or most Asian countries. Growing immunity to controlling many diseases and health issues are good health benefits of these significant spices. Many spices have their own antimicrobial properties which provides resistance to battle against diseases. Also they help to keep our body warm in many occasions. Lets take few Sri Lankan Spices one by one.

- Cloves:
Many are aware that cloves are one of the best agent that provide relief to the problems related to our teeth and gums. But there are more. Cloves are rich in antioxidants and has antiviral and anti-inflammatory which helps to avoid cold, cough and fever. Also they help to loosen your mucus in the throat helping to cough it up.

- Ceylon Cinnamon :
Cinnamon has been used for traditional medicines from thousand years back by Ancient Ayurveda Medicines in Sri Lanka and many other Asian countries. It is an excellent cold reliever and helps to dry out dampness and warming of the body. Cinnamon is specially great for people who are suffering from high blood sugar. It gives a sweet taste to food without adding sugar, and many studies indicate it can help to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Also cinnamon provides many heart healthy benefits such as reducing high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However it not an replacement for a diabetes medication but it will be a helpful addition to a healthy lifestyle.

- Turmeric :
Turmeric is an a famous germ killing agent where people use in many occasions. It is a good home remedy for cold and flu, and repairing body cells. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic which helps to battle against cold and dry painful cough.

- Black Pepper:
Black pepper contains many nutrients like vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants and antibacterial properties, which acts as natural remedy for cough and cold along with a delightful spicy aroma. Drinking a cup of pepper tea in the morning or pepper with honey is the one of the best traditional medicine to prevent cold and related diseases. It fights dehydration of skin as well, keeping your skin baby soft in winter if consumed with hot water.

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Published in Ceylon Spices

Ceylon Cinnamon or True Cinnamon which are commercially cultivated, harvested and processed in Sri Lanka are the only source of True Cinnamon to the world spice market. Sri Lanka produces Ceylon Cinnamon by peeling off the thin bark of the tree C.zeylanicum of the Lauraceae family which is native to Sri Lanka and drying it while rolling them in to quills. Making quills is unique to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Cinnamon farmers produces few grades of Ceylon Cinnamon depending on few parameters which are given by the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka. These grades are mainly depend on their outer appearance, moisture content, length of a quill, diameter of a quill and foxing. And these grades have respective prices along with those quality parameters.

- Ceylon Cinnamon Grades:

- Alba:
Maximum diameter of a quill - 06 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 45
% of rough quills per kg - None
Minimum length of quills in a bail - 200
Maximum % of single quality quills per bail - 01

- C00000 Special (C5Sp):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 06 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 35
% of rough quills per kg - 10
Minimum length of quills in a bail - 200
Maximum % of single quality quills per bail - 01

- C00000 (C5):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 10 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 31
% of rough quills per kg - 10

- C0000 (C4):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 13 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 24
% of rough quills per kg - 10

- C000 (C3):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 16 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 22
% of rough quills per kg - 15

- C00 (C2):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 17 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 20
% of rough quills per kg - 20

- C0 (C1):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 19 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 18
% of rough quills per kg - 25

- M00000 Special (M5sp):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 16 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 22
% of rough quills per kg - 50
Minimum length of quills in a bail - 200
Maximum % of single quality quills per bail - 02

- M00000 (M5):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 16 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 22
% of rough quills per kg - 60

- M0000 (M4):
Maximum diameter of a quill - 19 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 18
% of rough quills per kg - 60

- H1:
Maximum diameter of a quill - 23 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 11
% of rough quills per kg - 25
Minimum length of quills in a bail - 150
Maximum % of single quality quills per bail - 30

- H2:
Maximum diameter of a quill - 25 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 09
% of rough quills per kg - 40

- H3:
Maximum diameter of a quill - 38 mm
Minimum number of 42 inch whole quills per kg - 07
% of rough quills per kg - 60

The availability of relevant grades will depend on the weather and many other conditions in Cinnamon growing areas in Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Cinnamon
Tuesday, 20 October 2020 13:16

True Cinnamon vs Cassia

Did you know that there are two kinds of Cinnamon in the world where one is healthy and true and other one is respectively unhealthy and fake?

Yes there are. True Cinnamon also known as Ceylon Cinnamon which is native to the South Asian island Sri Lanka is the one and only True Cinnamon in the world. And the fake cinnamon or it is called as Chinese Cinnamon or Cassia Cinnamon is the second one. These two varieties have identical features where we can identify Ceylon Cinnamon from Cassia Cinnamon easily.

In Sri Lanka, Ceylon Cinnamon is produced using the bark of the tender shoots of the plant ‘Cinnamomum verum’ which are mainly cultivated in South and Central region of the country. The thin bark is then dried in the sun and rolled together by hand into long "quills", which are later graded and cut into custom sizes. Cassia Cinnamon is produced using the bark of the plant ‘"Cinnamomim cassia’ which is mainly cultivated in Tropical Forests in Southern China. The strips of the inner bark are dried in the sun and curl up naturally forming thick shards. Identically Ceylon Cinnamon bark is thin and rolled using few dried barks to a quill where Cassia Cinnamon has a single curled bark when dried.

When it comes to the flavours True Cinnamon has a medium sweet taste, but rather it enhances the perception of sweetness in other ingredients. This makes it perfect for sweet bakes and desserts, and for drawing out sweet notes in savoury dishes. Cassia Cinnamon has a sweet, warming taste, but it is bitter and lacks the floral and citrus notes of True Cinnamon. Its deeper, spicier and has a less subtle flavor.

The absence of Coumarin in True Cinnamon and presence of Coumerin in Cassia is the main reason which emphasizes True Cinnamon is much healthier than Cassia Cinnamon. Coumarin is a flavouring substance which is contained in relatively high concentrations in Cassia Cinnamon. In especially sensitive persons, even comparatively small quantities of coumarin can cause temporary liver damages and increase the risk of cancer.

Also True Cinnamon sticks has a lighter brown and fragile appearance with a smooth texture and easy to snap or break while Cassia Cinnamon's bark is darker, thicker and more loosely coiled and harder to snap or break.

In the world market most of the ground cinnamon contains Cassia Cinnamon than True Cinnamon where True Cinnamon powder is majorly produced and exported from Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Cinnamon
Thursday, 21 May 2020 12:17

Pepper - The Masterpiece of Spices

Pepper ‘Piper nigrum’ which belongs to family Piperaceae commonly called as the "King of Spices" is one of the most popular spice used in all over the world in making food dishes. Sri Lankan Pepper is known as the world’s best pepper when comparing to its quality and chemical features.

In Sri Lanka, pepper mainly cultivated in Low Country, Mid country Wet and Intermediate agro-climatic zones. Also the entire extent is about 30,000ha and the major districts which cultivate pepper are Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Badulla, Ratnapura, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya and Kurunegala. It is often grown either as a mono crop or as a mixed crop within the coconut and tea plantations using live and dead standards as support. Pepper is a perfect crop for home gardens where it is often trained on the prevailing tree species also. Although the origin of black pepper is believed to be Malabar Coast of India, Sri Lanka too is a home to variety of wild pepper types. When considering the large genetic variability of “Piper nigrum L” found in Sri Lanka and therefore the presence of pepper wild relatives, it's believed that Sri Lanka also an area which originated pepper. Some commercial black pepper varieties have been introduced to Sri Lankan farmers by Department of Export Agriculture since the existence of economic black pepper trade rising with the demand in many countries. High yielding pepper line called “Panniyur-1” from India and “Kuchin” from Malaysia was introduced within the 1970s but MB21 and GK 49 are high yielding and superior quality local selections which were popular among black pepper cultivators. At Harvesting correct stage of maturity is important to supply top quality peppercorns. Harvesting starts when one or two of the berries on the spike begin to show orange to red color and the berries are hard to the touch. The pungency of peppercorns increases throughout its maturity.

In Sri Lanka Black Pepper widely used as a "hot" cooking spice and seasoning. In Europe as well as Sri Lanka Black Pepper has been using as a food preservative and for adding heat and flavour to meats. Extracts of black pepper (Oleoresin and essential oil) are also extracted from whole berries, and have been used as both spice and flavoring agents within the food industry, Black pepper has become a kitchen staple in households worldwide with its subtle heat and bold flavor, it’s versatile and may enhance almost any savory dish. A dash of ground black pepper are often a tasty seasoning for cooked vegetables, pasta dishes, meat, fish, poultry, and lots of more. It also pairs well with other healthful seasonings, including turmeric, cardamom, cumin, garlic, and lemon peel. For an additional kick and a touch crunch, try coating tofu, fish, chicken, and other proteins with coarsely ground peppercorns and extra seasonings. This versatile flavor-enhancer is worth adding to daily cooking routine, as its bold flavor may be a welcome addition to almost any dish. Additionally it has industrial uses in perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.

Sri Lankan black pepper has higher Piperine content which conduces to fetch a premium price in international spice trade. Sri Lankan pepper, like other spices from the island, is well-known for its superior inherent properties. For instance, Sri Lankan pepper has higher Piperine content as above mentioned, which provides it a superior quality and pungency. Normally Piperine content in Sri Lankan black pepper is 2 to 6 times above in other countries. Also Black pepper is a good source of manganese and vitamin K, copper and dietary fiber, and a source of iron, chromium and calcium

Medicinal Properties of Pepper

Black pepper mainly rich in antioxidants which plays a main role as free radical scavengers. Free radicals are unstable molecules which will damage body cells. Those excess radical damage can cause major health problems. for instance, it's been linked to inflammation, premature aging, heart disease, and certain cancers. In order that as Black pepper rich in a plant compound Piperine, which have potent antioxidant properties may help prevent or delay the damaging effects of radicals and that they act as free radical scavengers then decrease the danger of disorder like cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Also it has anti-inflammatory properties. Means, it's going to effectively fight inflammation against chronic inflammations which may be an underlying factor in many conditions, like arthritis, heart condition, diabetes, and cancer. For example, in studies in rats with arthritis, treatment with Piperine resulted in less joint swelling and fewer blood markers of inflammation but, Piperine suppressed inflammation within the airways caused by asthma and seasonal allergies.

However, the anti-inflammatory effects of black pepper and Piperine haven't yet been studied extensively in people. Piperine has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies. In particular, it's demonstrated potential benefits for symptoms associated with degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Also bioprine suspected as having cancer-fighting properties. Though no human trials are performed, test-tube studies found that Piperine slowed the replication of breast, prostate, and carcinoma cells and induced neoplastic cell death Another test-tube study observed that Piperine from black pepper was the foremost effective at enhancing the efficacy of traditional treatment for triple-negative carcinoma. Piperine has shown promising effects in laboratory studies for reversing multi-drug resistance in cancer cells.

What more, the compounds in black pepper may improve blood glucose control with improvements in insulin sensitivity and should lower cholesterol levels Black pepper extract has been studied for its potential to scale back cholesterol level. Additionally, black pepper and Piperine are believed to spice up the absorption of dietary supplements that have potential cholesterol-lowering effects like turmeric and red yeast rice

There are more, Black pepper may increase the bio-availability of the many nutrients like selenium, beta-carotene, curcumin and vitamins A and C also some beneficial plant compounds, like those found in tea and turmeric. That’s why it's always recommended to feature a pinch of black pepper in turmeric preparation and dishes to raised absorb curcumin. Also it's going to promote gut health. The makeup of your gut bacteria has been linked to immune function, mood, chronic diseases, and more. Preliminary research suggests that black pepper may increase the good bacteria in gut and It also stimulates appetite and helps the assembly of digestive enzymes within the pancreas it also accelerates the intestinal transit. Among the ailments that black pepper was administered to patients who are suffering from diarrhea, constipation, arthritis, insect bites, and pulmonary and cardiovascular troubles. Also it can be often use as pain reliever. Though it's yet to be studied in humans, studies in rodents suggest that the Piperine in black pepper could also be a natural pain reliever too.

Black pepper extract, containing Bioperine has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine to treat fevers, digestive disorders, urinary difficulties, rheumatism, neuralgia and boils warming spice consistent with Ayurveda. It is often utilized in combination with other spices, because its component Piperine increases. In C.T.M (Chinese Traditional Medicine) pepper is described as a spice capable of warming the body, wont to dissipate cold and melt phlegm. together with other warming spices like ginger and cinnamon it are often utilized in infusions to fight cold and flu.

Written by :
Ms. R M O Kavindya Bandara,
BSc in Food Science and Nutrition Sp (Reading),
Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Spices

‘Nutmeg & Mace are two distinctly different spices produced from a fruit of an evergreen tree ‘Myristica fragrans’ which is usually 9-12 meters in height. The nutmeg is the oval-shaped pit, which is the fruit, and mace is the bright red webbing that surrounds the shell of the pit. These trees are normally uni-sexual, which bears either male or female flowers. Their fruit is a fleshy drupe, spherical in shape, pale yellow in color with a longitudinal groove in the center. When the fruit mature it burst open along the groove exposing the reddish bright attractive mace, covering the hard black, shiny shell of the seed called nutmeg. Commercially the mace is removed, dried and then ground into a coarse powder that turns a reddish color. The nutmeg can either be dried and left whole and packaged for grating, or dried and grated fresh.

Nutmeg tree is indigenous to Moluccas. And they are grown majorly in Indonesia and Granada. Also it grows in Sri Lanka, India, China, Malaysia, Zanzibar, Mauritius and Solomon Islands in smaller scales. Nutmeg and mace is a spice where it has a unique taste which is mainly used in sweet foods. The taste between mace and nutmeg is slightly different where mace is more spicy and pungent which is similar to the combination of pepper and cinnamon. Preferably nutmeg has a more sweeter, delicate flavor and fragrance than mace. The ground nutmeg or mace are generally used in baking in food processing industry and also a a seasoning in many dutch dishes. However nutmeg and mace also has a promising history among all the spices produced in Sri Lanka and plays a major role in annual spice production in the country too.

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Published in Ceylon Spices
Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:18

Health benefits of Spices to Human Body

Spices have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Spices are usually used in foods and beverages for enhance flavor, aroma and color, but they can also protect from acute and chronic diseases. There are some scientific evidence that spices contain anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and glucose and cholesterol lowering activities. Frequent consumption of spicy foods can reduce the risk of death from cancer and ischemic heart and respiratory system diseases. Sri Lanka is the most famous country to the spices. So Sri Lanka is called as “Land of Spices”. Major export spices are cinnamon, black pepper, clove and nutmeg.

Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon (Cinamomum zylanika) is indigenous to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice and also it has been prized for its medicinal properties thousand years. Cinnamon contain lot of anti-oxidants such as polyphenol which protect human body from oxidative damages caused by free radicals. Some anti-oxidants that contain in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effect. Cinnamon has an ability to reduce the level of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglyceride level in blood while remaining HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). It helps to reduce risk of getting heart diseases. Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin so cinnamon has a blood sugar lowering property. There are scientific evidences which cinnamon has potential to cancer prevention. Cinnamon has ability to reducing cancer cells and some chemicals in cinnamon toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most commonly used spice. Black pepper not only a spice, it used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands years due to high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds. Black pepper contain piperine. Animal studies has shown that piperine has an ability to improve brain function. And also piperine may help to improve blood sugar metabolism. Therefore black pepper helps to reduce blood sugar level. High cholesterol levels in blood directly associated. Scientific studies have shown that black pepper has potential to reduce blood cholesterol level. Active compound in piperine, may have cancer fighting ability. Black pepper may increase the absorption of essential mineral nutrients such as calcium and selenium.

Clove also known as Syzygiyum aromaticum an evergreen plant and major export spice in Sri Lanka. The flower bud of the clove tree use as the spice. In fact most of animal studies found that the compounds in clove may be beneficial for the human health. Clove provide important nutrients such as manganese, vitamin K and vitamin C. Clove contain some anti-oxidants reduce the oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Clove contain eugenol. Eugenol may be beneficial to the liver health by reducing the risk of getting fatty liver. Some compounds found in clove, may help to regulate blood sugar.

Nutmeg is made from the seed Myristica fragrans plant. It is a most popular spice in world wide. Most commonly nutmeg is used for its flavor than the its health benefits. Nutmeg contain powerful compounds that may help to promote overall human health and prevent from diseases. Like other spices nutmeg also contain anti-oxidants which reduce oxidative stress. Some animal studies have shown that nutmeg may have the property to enhance sex drive and performance. Bacteria like Streptococcus mutance and Aggregatibacter actinomycetecomitans can cause to gum diseases and dental cavities. Nutmeg has powerful anti-bacterial effect against these bacteria.

Written by :
Ms. E G Prasadika Sanjeewani Somarathna
Department of Food Science and Technology (Reading),
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Spices
Sunday, 09 June 2019 07:26

Ceylon Cinnamon Vs Cassia

Cennamomum zeylanicum blume’ the plant which is indigenous to Sri Lanka produces the True Ceylon Cinnamon which is proved by it’s own name. Ceylon Cinnamon cannot originate from elsewhere in the world and has a higher demand because of that factor. So, true to its name, this small island has an authentic variety of Ceylon Spices which is well renown in the globe. Among those Spices Ceylon Cinnamon plays the major role and has some superior features which uplifts its value among other Spices and other substitutes like Cassia (Chinese Cinnamon) which competes and misleads people with Cinnamon. Moreover Ceylon Cinnamon is much less majorly found than Cassia Cinnamon in the context of the global market. It’s beyond dispute, however, that there’re discernible differences between the two. Let us explore the significant dissimilarities as our topic at the top.

First let’s focus the Visible Characteristics between Ceylon Cinnamon & Cassia Cinnamon.
- When it comes to colour Ceylon Cinnamon has a tan brown whereas Cassia Cinnamon has a reddish dark brown.
- And the texture of Ceylon Cinnamon is thin, feels like a paper and forms multiple layers when rolled after drying. But Cassia Cinnamon has a rougher thick bark which forms few layers when rolled up or has a visible empty cavity.
- Also Cassia Cinnamon is bit tougher to grind than Ceylon Cinnamon because of the difference of the fragility between them.

Now to the Flavour and the Taste.
- The authentic taste in Ceylon Cinnamon is delicate and sweet with a pleasant aroma when eating or using as a flavouring agent. In contrast, Cassia Cinnamon has same kind of aroma but the pungency and Spicy flovour is little bit higher than Ceylon Cinnamon.

Why Choose Ceylon Cinnamon over Cassia Cinnamon?
- “Coumarin” the main chemical compound in Cinnamon plays the major role when it comes to health benefits as well as to side effects. Consuming Coumarin over a long period of time can cause some serious health problems and a prior negative impact to the kidneys and liver. So that the amount of Coumarin containing in Cassia Cinnamon is significantly higher than Ceylon Cinnamon.
- It is also believed that Ceylon Cinnamon could help lower the blood sugar level a little and gives a good support to diabetic patients to stop their medications.

How about the Price?
- Because of the above factors we can deduce that Ceylon Cinnamon has a superior quality and an authentic value which increases it’s demand among the people across the globe than Cassia Cinnamon. Hence Ceylon Cinnamon is 10 times or more expensive than Cassia Cinnamon.

That shows how Ceylon Cinnamon ranked as one of the best selling spice in the world over the years and the little island called Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is the only country which produces True Ceylon Cinnamon to the World Market. Because of that significant differences between Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon, Both Ceylon Cinnamon buyers and consumers should seriously consider the above mention factors to differentiate the True Ceylon Cinnamon than Cassia Cinnamon.

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Published in Ceylon Cinnamon
Sunday, 20 October 2019 07:23

Spice Island

Lets start with the questions "What is a Spice?" , What is this well known "Spice Island"? And why this small island known as Spice Island?

What is a Spice?

A spice is a plant part that are ultimately loaded with vast variety of flavors than most other ingredients used in cooking and many more purposes. Whereas spices tend to derive from fruits, roots, seeds, flowers, stems, bark and herbs always comes from the leafy part and most of them are usually dried to a recommended condition. Majority of flavor compounds in spices oil, rather than water soluble they are stored within bubbles of oil. Spices are kind of an engineering output which has a structure to keep those oils locked away and will be released only if the plant is damaged or attacked by an infection. After the bubbles rapture and the oil is exposed to air, the flavor compounds evaporates into gases. This reaction is happening in all meal dishes and in other products that are made using spices.

And now to the second question. What is this well known Spice Island?

A tiny, beautiful island in the Indian Ocean which has a great history of trade for centuries around the world, also called as the "Pearl of Indian Ocean", and later known as Ceylon, Serendib and yes now Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tropical country located near to the equator which has a huge variety of bio diversity around the country with few world heritages. Because of it's unique location it has been gifted with a valuable soil, a vast bio diversity, and appropriate weather conditions to grow crops throughout the year. Past the traders who have visited Ceylon has traded spices and many more products through silk route which are originated and produced only in Sri Lanka. Moreover Sri Lanka is known as a Agricultural Country which has a huge production of agricultural products to the world.

Finally to the third and the last, Why this small island known as Spice Island?

At the second paragraph I have mentioned that Sri Lanka aka Ceylon is a Tropical country with an appropriate weather all around the year to cultivate crops. Because of that, many Sri Lankans were farmers that grew many kinds of crops throughout the year. Spices has played a major role among those crops in few parts of the country. A well known spice around the world, Cinnamon or Ceylon Cinnamon or True Ceylon Cinnamon is a native plant to Sri Lanka and and only grown in Sri Lanka for decades. From 1600 BCE, Ancient Egyptians used a type of cinnamon as a spice which was bought from African traders and no one knew whether it is Cinnamon or something else until the Portuguese found cinnamon trees growing in Sri Lanka in the early 1500s. And the trade moved with the invasions of Dutch and British for centuries over control of the territory and lucrative trade. Cinnamon was the main and the best spice from the spices from Sri Lanka among the traders and buyers around the world which was the reason to became as the Spice Island among the world population. Also Sri Lanka was a leading producer of Ceylon Black Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg and Mace, Vanilla, Cardamom and many more. We at KAgroo produce authentic Sri Lankan spices to the local and world market with the highest quality.

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Published in Ceylon Spices
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 07:21

How Ceylon Cinnamon was produced and graded.

Cinnamon is the dried bark of the perennial tree of Cennamomum zeylanicum of the Lauraceae family. True Cinnamon is native to spice island (Sri Lanka). Cinnamon is originally grown wild in central hill country of Sri Lanka. The history of cinnamon dates back to about 2800 B.C where it can be found referenced as Kwai in Chinese writings . But cinnamon is even mentioned in the Bible when Moses used it as an ingredient for his anointing oil in ancient Rome. Cinnamon was a precious spice in the west during 14th - 15th centuries and it’s primary use was to preserve meat and to retard the growth of bacteria. By that time the real cinnamon was produced in only the place, named as Ceylon or Spice Island. Portuguese traders made their way to Ceylon in the 15th century, enslaved the natives and had the control of the trades from Arabs. Since 1815 the British took the control of the island and cinnamon trade too was moved to their hands.

The best historical evidence about the Cinnamon trade in Sri Lanka is found in up country Dutch agreement (Hanguranketha Agreement) signed in 14th February 1766 between the former King of Sri Lanka Sri Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe and the Dutch government. Sri Lankan Cinnamon also known as Pure Ceylon Cinnamon is considered as the True Cinnamon, which is broadly used in both sweet and savory food and beverages industries all around the world, and only grown in Sri Lanka.

In Spice Island, Cinnamon seems to have originated in the central hills where seven wild species of cinnamon occur in Kandy, Matale, Belihulloya, Haputale, Horton Planes and the Sinharaja Forest range. Presently cultivation concentrated along the costal belt from Negombo to Matara it has also made inroads to Kalutara and Rathnapura.

Then we can find different varieties of Ceylon cinnamon. There are eight cinnamon species in Sri Lanka. Among them only Cinnamomum zeylancium blume is grown commercially in tradition. There were several types of cinnamon categorized based on taste of the bark, “Pani -Miris Kurundu “ was the best with sweet - Pungent taste and “Miris-Kurundu”, “Sevel Kurundu” are the others. Currently ten cinnamon accessions have been identified based on yield and quality performances and best two lines, named as “Sri Vijaya” and “Sri Gamunu” were released.

During the harvesting time, the branches are chopped off and entire tress are cut down. The outer bark is peeled off revealing an inner bark, the cinnamon, which curls into a quills as it dries. First harvest of cinnamon can be taken after three years of planting and two harvests can be taken per year. Harvesting is done when the bark colour of the stem turn in to brown and stick diameter is about 3 - 5cm. Branches and leaves are removed from harvested sticks before peeling and harvested stem should be peeled on the same day. During peeling outer skin is scrapped and rubs the bark with a brass rod to be loosened bark from the hard wood. Then peel the bark, part by part, with a special knife and peeled bark is allowed to dry under sun for few hours and when rolling of the bark starts, pieces of bark are connected together and to make a pipe like structure and the standard length of the tube is 42 inches. The hollow of the tube is filled with small pieces of stem and the tubes are left for indoor drying for about 4-7 days. While Ceylon Cinnamon sticks are all made the same way, they are graded according to colour, density, blemishes, essential oil content and other factors .True Ceylon Cinnamon sticks are golden in color and is made up multiple thin slivers of cinnamon bark rolled into a cigar shaped cinnamon sticks. Each individual True Ceylon Cinnamon stick is handcrafted and hand rolled with immaculate skilful technique to perfection. Peeling cinnamon is an art and each cinnamon stick is carefully hand rolled to different cinnamon grades. Ceylon cinnamon sticks are also known as quills. After harvesting and drying, Cinnamon quills curl while the much harder Cassia has a single scroll like curl. Ceylon Cinnamon (True Cinnamon) has a tan color compared to the dark red brown of Cassia Cinnamon. In Sri Lanka, minimal foxing is called “Malkorahedi” while heavy foxing is called “Korahedi”. Whether a cinnamon sticks is called “Malkorahedi” Or “Korahedi” is based on the extent of the foxing patches. Each grades of cinnamon has certain foxing specifications.

According to the spice council of Sri Lanka SLS-81 standard Cinnamon can should have a maximum moisture content of 15%. Ideally it should be less than this, the essential oils in cinnamon sticks which determines the aroma, is specified at a minimum of 1%. Cinnamon quills, with standard lengths and diameters are made out of Ceylon cinnamon - grown and manufactured solely in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Cinnamon is categorised into four major grades as Alba, Continental, Mexican and Hamburg based on the diameter of the quills, where the most expensive (Alba) has a 6mm diameter quill.
Ceylon Cinnamon Grades
- Alba : It is a prized grade of Ceylon cinnamon that is by – far the most expensive. It is slender and brittle and abounds with a sweet taste, pleasant aroma and a powerful flavour.
- SPL : The 2nd best quality after Alba which has a better taste with an absolute taste.
- C5 : This grade of Ceylon Cinnamon is highly sought after its character, taste, smell and excellent flavour.
- C4 : This grade is in highly demanded for its smoothness, exquisite fragrance, pale, tan yellow colour and sweet taste. 16mm in diameter.
- M5 : It is relatively rougher in texture and thinner in appearance.
- M4 : This is made up of chosen parts of high quality cinnamon.
- H1 : Comprise the finest and the most expensive portions of the rough cinnamon bark. Most popular in the South American market.
- H2 : Comprise the sorted portions of the rough cinnamon bark. Thicker than H1 grade. Consists of golden yellow cinnamon quills of high quality.
- Quilling No 1 & No 2 : This grade consists lager a smaller quillings respectively which are collected as a rest of cutting and bailing cinnamon

It is the story of True Ceylon Cinnamon from the day of planting to the final product in Sri Lanka.

Written by :
Ms. H P D Thathsarani,
Higher National Diploma in Agriculture Production Technology (Reading),
Aquinas College of Higher Studies, Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Cinnamon

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