In Season: Cinnamon

There is nothing better than waking up in the morning to the aroma of warm cinnamon buns baking in the oven. The unmistakable scent of cinnamon is intoxicating, and its warming powers make it such a comforting spice. During the holiday season, cinnamon spends more time off the spice rack than it does the rest of the year. But don’t let the snowy weather be your only excuse for cinnamon’s touch.

Cinnamon is slowly gaining a reputation as one of the healthiest spices on the shelf. Recent studies have suggested the spice’s power to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and reduce the proliferation of leukemia cells. It is also a rich source of fiber, calcium and iron, and works as a as a natural food preservative to inhibit food spoilage and bacteria growth.

Whether sprinkled on oatmeal, baked in cookies or incorporated into more savory dishes, the spice has such versatility, it’s the ideal spice for any kitchen comfort.

**All About Cinnamon**

In Season: Cinnamon

When to Buy: While typically used around the winter holidays, cinnamon can be bought and used any time!

What to Buy: There are three main types of cinnamon: cassia, Vietnamese and Ceylon. Cassia is what Americans typically have in their pantries, and it has a slightly sweet and mellow taste. Vietnamese cinnamon comes from the same tree as the cassia cinnamon, but once harvested, the cinnamon has a stronger, spicier flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is harvested from the cinnamon tree. Though it has a less pronounced flavor with subtle citrus overtones, its suggested positive health effects have boosted the variety’s popularity. Among the three, cassia is the least expensive.

Cinnamon can be bought in whole form as a stick, pod or seed or ground into a powder. For the best flavor, buy the spice whole and grind it up fresh for each use. However, because cinnamon sticks can be difficult to grind, especially when lacking the proper equipment on a college budget, buying cinnamon powder is a viable, economic option.

Prep & Storage: Whole or ground cinnamon has a shelf life of about six months to a year. It is best to store the spice in an air-tight container and keep it in a cool spot, such as a cupboard or pantry. After a year, the flavor of the spice will slowly begin to weaken. If you want the cinnamon to last more than a year in your pantry, consider freezing it in an airtight container to prolong freshness.

How to Cook: Cinnamon’s versatility makes it one of those must-have pantry items. A little  can go a long way in affecting the flavor of recipe. The spice is commonly associated with baking, but its depth works well for savory dishes, too. In Middle Eastern, Persian and Turkish cuisines, the spice is commonly added to lamb and chicken recipes. It can be consumed in a cooked product, or simply sprinkled on slices of fruits or dashed on a hot latte.

Recipe Box: Here are some of our favorite cinnamon recipes:

Sweet and Savory Moroccan Stew
The combination of cinnamon along with other spices gives the dish a wonderful depth and earthiness that any good stew should have.

Fresh Apple Crisp
Harken back to the nostalgia of fall by recreating a seasonal classic in the dining hall.

Apple Pie with Criss-Cross Crust
What would a post about cinnamon be without a recipe for apple pie?

Noodle Kugel
A teaspoon of cinnamon warms this casserole to another level.

Cinnamon Scented Rice
A bowl of cinnamon scented rice is an easy and fast meal for any busy collegiate.

Holiday Snickerdoodles
For all those cookie swap parties this holiday, bring a classic by whipping up this snickerdoodle recipe.

Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University, has made her housemates’ day when the smell of cinnamon permeates through their apartment. Read more…

Originally posted on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

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