Cinnamon and Cassia: What’s the difference? Kerala cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon and Cassia: What’s the difference?

There may be only a few people who are unaware of the spice, cinnamon. Cinnamon is a widely used spice in foods all around the world. It gives a vibrant flavour to the dishes. But did you know that there is another spice that resembles cinnamon and that we consume it, knowingly or unknowingly? It’s cassia. It looks identical to cinnamon but has totally different properties from the original cinnamon. Here is all you need to know about cinnamon and cassia.

Difference between  Cinnamon and cassia, which look similar and get their flavour from the bark of their respective trees through the same process. The outer layer of a tree’s bark is removed after it has been harvested, dried, and fermented. After the process, cinnamon’s inner bark curls into thinner stripes, and cassia has a stronger flavour.

The scientific name of true cinnamon is Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and its native country is Sri Lanka; cassia is scientifically known as Cinnamomum aromaticum or Cinnamomum cassia, which is native to southern China, thus it is also known as Chinese cinnamon. Cassia is also cultivated in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Since ancient times, cinnamon has been used all over the world as a flavouring, preservative, embalming agent, and for its therapeutic benefits. Cinnamon from Cassia is regarded as of lower quality. It is the kind that is most frequently consumed worldwide and is incredibly affordable. The cassia variety of cinnamon is almost exclusively available in supermarkets.

Benefits of true cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum:

  • Since ancient times, cinnamon has been used both medicinally and aromatically. It is high in antioxidants.
  • lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and stabilizes HDL cholesterol in heart patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • lowers blood sugar levels and acts as a diabetes preventative.
  • It controls diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which destroy the function of the cells in the nervous system.
  • Cinnamaldehyde, present in cinnamon, protects against many human diseases and bacterial-fungal diseases.
  • It prevents tooth decay and helps to get rid of bad breath.

Cinnamon and cassia have different health properties. Cassia contains a compound named coumarin, which can damage the lungs, kidneys, and liver.

How to identify cinnamon and cassia at a glance?

Real cinnamon sticks or quills curl into a perfect circle with a telescopic shape. However, cassia sticks have a scroll-like appearance as they curl inward from both sides. Cinnamon has a tan color, a warmer tone, and a sweet flavour. The color and texture of cassia are more reddish brown, and it has a stronger yet more bitter flavour.

When they are in ground form, it is challenging to tell the two apart. However, each spice differs from the others in terms of color and scent. “Test of Starch” can help identify powdered cinnamon from powdered cassia. In this process, the powdered bark is treated with a tincture of iodine. If the powder is good quality cinnamon (no mixture), the effect is less noticeable, but when cassia powder is treated with the same, the mixture produces a deep blue tint; the intensity of the coloration depends on the proportion of cassia.

How to identify them through taste?

Cinnamon has a lovely, exotic bouquet scent.The oil, which is also known as “cinnamon oil,” greatly influences the flavour of this spice; it has a warm, aromatic, and sweet taste.

The scent is stronger and more overpowering than cinnamon, but almost identical. A dish can lose its flavour if it uses too much cassia, which has a sweet and peppery flavour.

Even though cinnamon and cassia look similar, they are totally different. Next time when you buy cinnamon, this article will help you avoid getting scammed.

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