Like her cousin did years ago, Lucy likes to play the sniffing game with us. She pulls spice jars from the drawer, opens each one with gusto, and pronounces, “Mmmm. This one smells great!” She’s come to love turmeric and curry powder. She has always loved dried basil. But her very favorite spice, by far, is cinnamon.
The kid has good taste.
We adore cinnamon around here. Rather than relegate it only to holiday baking, we put it in our herbal tea, roast chickens with coconut oil, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla, and put a pinch of it into most anything we cook. It’s bright, with a hint of spice, and good for the palate. (And for our health.)
Long ago, I stopped buying ground nutmeg. Microplane, meet whole nutmeg. Everything tastes better when I tap a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg into the dough. And yet, it never occurred to me to grind cinnamon fresh.
After we grated the Saigon cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill onto buckwheat crepes with fresh ricotta, we were convinced. I’m never using ground cinnamon again.
You might not have grated fresh cinnamon before either. We’d like to introduce you to Cinnamon Hill, our latest sponsor, with answers from its founder, Rupert Beeley. And seriously? Buy some of this cinnamon.
Tell us about Cinnamon Hill
Cinnamon Hill is a new online business selling freshly harvested cinnamon sticks together with a specially designed, hand-made cinnamon grater. It’s all we do. We sell to cinnamon lovers, healthy eaters and people generally interested in good, fresh food.
Where does your cinnamon come from?
Cinnamon is the inner bark of the branch of a bush or tree. We get our Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka and our Saigon cinnamon from Vietnam. These are the two finest cinnamons in the world. We go there every year and choose the best sticks, which we then wrap individually to preserve their freshness. Ceylon cinnamon has a warm, citrusy aroma whereas Saigon cinnamon has a hot, distinctly sweet taste.
Why do you sell cinnamon in stick form with a special grater? Why not just sell ground cinnamon?
The unique taste of fresh cinnamon comes from its natural oils. Cinnamon loses a lot of these oils during the industrial grinding process, under the heat generated by the whirring blades. To avoid this, some spice brands use a cold process called cryogenic grinding (ugh!). We don’t go for that. We like natural things. Nothing can be more natural than grating fresh gourmet cinnamon at the table. That’s why we designed this special grater – so that you get the very best of the taste.
What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
There is a lot of evidence that cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels (which is why many diabetics use it daily) and also lowers bad cholesterol. More generally, cinnamon is a good alternative sweetener and helps people to cut down on sugar and lose weight. In the US it is thought of as a “Fat-Buster” whereas in Europe and Asia it is better known as a “Super Spice,” helping against various ailments. You can only be sure of these health benefits if you’re using fresh, pure cinnamon.
Are there any downsides to using cinnamon?
There are occasional internet conversations, generally very ill-informed, about the health risks of coumarin. This is a natural flavouring which occurs in many plants, including cinnamon. It occurs in negligible concentrations in Ceylon cinnamon but in higher concentrations in Saigon cinnamon. In large doses it can cause liver damage in a small group of particularly sensitive individuals.
We did a post a year ago about this, setting out the facts as plainly as we could.
Why is your cinnamon of interest to our readers?
As well as offering a new, tasty, real food for you to try, we want to offer you a cinnamon that is without doubt gluten-free. Some brands specify that their ground cinnamon is gluten-free but most brands don’t. This is because flour is sometimes mixed with ground cinnamon to protect it from caking. If you grind whole cinnamon at home then you don’t need to worry. And if it’s fresh cinnamon, you unlock this fantastic goodness and baking flavour.
How do you use your fresh cinnamon?
People use cinnamon in all sorts of sweet and savory recipes but increasingly people grate our fresh cinnamon over their food at the table: on oatmeal, yoghurt, fruit dishes, ice cream, hot chocolate. And a lot of people just make a simple cinnamon and honey hot drink. I myself mix Saigon cinnamon into ground coffee beans every morning but my wife Charlotta puts Ceylon cinnamon on her marmalade!
We’re happy to be working with Cinnamon Hill. We think you’ll love their cinnamon.
This post is part of our sponsorship program, which you can read more about here.