Cinnamon and Cloves | Sunday Observer

Cinnamon and Cloves

Cinnamon sticks and powder
Cinnamon sticks and powder

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice. We all love food spiced with cinnamon for its taste and fragrance. They come as both sweet and spicy. Today, let’s look at some facts about cinnamon.

Cinnamon pieces or curls are taken from the inner bark of several species or varieties of evergreen trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. This popular spice is native to Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Cinnamomum verum or cinnamon verum also called true cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and is considered superior to other varieties. Just a few species of Cinnamomum are grown to get the inner bark as spice.

Cinnamon has been used by people in ancient times. Historical records show that the Egyptians imported it way back in 2000 BC. The Romans too used it and Roman Emperors and nobles are said to have used it in their funeral pyres.

In ancient times cinnamon traders closely guarded facts where they got their cinnamon from. Famous sailor and explorer Ferdinand Magellan looking for spices for Spain, found Cinnamomum mindanaense which was closely related to the cinnamon in Sri Lanka and which trade was controlled by the Portuguese.

The cinnamon tree has oval-shaped leaves, a thick bark, and a berry fruit. It has to be grown for two years before the cinnamon can be harvested

Once cut, the cinnamon stems must be processed immediately while the inner bark is still wet. To process the stems, the outer bark has to be scraped first.

Then the cinnamon branch as to be beaten evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. After this the inner bark will be prised off in rolls which are very long. The processed bark is then kept in a place with good ventilation a certain amount of warmth to dry. When the cinnamon has dried well it is cut into strips between two to four inches for sale.

Cinnamon also gives an essential oil and is also used in traditional medicine.

Cloves

The clove tree is an evergreen tree belonging to the myrtle family or family Myrtaceae as it is scientifically known. The clove used in cooking is the dried flower bud of this tree. Cloves originated from the spice islands of Indonesia (the Moluccas). Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Pakistan, Zanzibar and Brazil are some of the countries where the clove tree flourishes.

Cloves tree and seeds

Cloves are grown in India too and are known as Lavang. Cloves are used for medicinal and dental products as well as for spicing both spicy and sweet food.

The use of cloves for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years.

The clove tree grows to a height of 8–12 metres. Clove leaves are large, oval in shape, shiny and grows in pairs. They are also very fragrant. Clove trees bloom from July to October and November to January.

The red flowers grow in small clusters. The name ‘clove’ comes from the Latin word clavus meaning nail. The clove is given because of the nail-like shape of the flower buds.

It is said that cloves grow best in coastal areas where ‘it is able to see the sea’.

(Source: Kids Search Kiddies Encyclopedia Wikepidia)

 

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