Long-known stateside for lending its aromatic, heating qualities to desserts, cinnamon is a popular spice used in sweet but also in savory dishes. What many people don’t realize, however, is that there are multiple varieties that have completely different flavor profiles and organic compounds.
So, what kind should you buy? What kind of cinnamon is right for what you’re looking to do with it? Firstly, let’s take a closer look at what cinnamon is – and isn’t.
What are True Cinnamon and Cassia? What’s the Difference?
Cinnamon is the dried and rolled or ground inner bark of the tree known as Cinnamomum Verum (literally “True Cinnamon” in Latin), which is native to Sri Lanka, the Malabar Coast of India and Burma (also known as Myanmar). Renowned for not only its culinary properties, but also its nutritional, preservative & fragrant attributes, True Cinnamon – sometimes called “Ceylon Cinnamon” – was once the most profitable spice traded by the Dutch East India company. The high demand for the spice before the advent of modern electric refrigeration was partly attributable to its antibacterial compounds which impede the spoilage of meat. In ancient times, it served as an embalming agent and as a perfume or incense for religious rites.
Cassia cinnamon comes in three widely-produced varieties: Indonesian or “Korintje” (Cinnamomum Burmannii), Saigon (Cinnamomum Loureiroi), and Chinese (Cinnamomum Cassia). The Chinese variety is generally the most bitter and has limited culinary applications, although it is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Korintji (or “Korintje”) cassia cinnamon from Indonesia is less bitter and because of its sweetness & relatively strong flavor (as compared to Ceylon Cinnamon) is popular in American baking: because it contrasts well with sugar while delivering a cinnamon-flavored wallop thanks it to its higher amounts of cinnamaldehyde – the active constituent that gives cinnamon & cassia much of their flavor. Korintji cinnamon is best used for snickerdoodles, cinnamon buns and other traditional American baked goods, because it’s the variety that’s been most commonly used for such fare. Think of it as the most nostalgic variety of cinnamon; what you likely sniffed as a child waiting for cookies to come out of the oven.
Saigon cinnamon is known for its peppery, warm and intense flavor. It’s bitter when used in excess and is generally considered best for Vietnamese or other Asian dishes such as Phở, or as a component of Five Spice powder. This spice – which is generally grown in central Vietnam, far from its namesake city – contains even higher levels of cinnamaldehydes than Korintje, giving it a reputation as the strongest of the culinary-grade cinnamon & cassia varieties.
Ceylon cinnamon is often described as “soft” cinnamon because the dried bark is thinner and more delicate to the touch. True cinnamon has a lighter brown hue and a more complex flavor profile than cassia: some describe it as being floral, fruitier and gentler-tasting, with notes of citrus & clove. It can be used in every confection or dish that cassia usually is, but will naturally have a more subtle taste. It goes especially well in baked fruit dishes, such as spiced pears or apple pies, and is a favorite for making cinnamon ice cream that isn’t too spicy.
Where Can I Buy Cinnamon?
While each kind of cinnamon or cassia is a bit different from the other varieties, they all have unique uses & profiles that are suited to differing palates and dishes. Pick out your preferred kind or order a few different varieties – from sticks to ground cinnamon, to ready-to-use cinnamon sugar, you can sample them all and decide which cinnamon suits your tastes – all three varieties are available!
Top Spices To Use For Beginner Cooks
The culinary arts are a common passion. A lot of people love to cook and know how to season their dish with just the right spices. Some, however, are just starting out as beginner cooks and need to hone their skill. It’s not usually a good idea to just jump in and improvise with spices, especially if you are making something for the first time. Yes, it can be hard to know where to start.
Not to worry though. If you fail, try again. That’s the beauty of art of any kind. When in doubt, you can turn to Spice Station Spices to figure out where to begin. They have a wide selection of beginner’s spices and more. Also, there are a few good spices to use in general if you are just starting out that you can almost never go wrong with. Here is a short list of such diverse spices for beginners.
1. Black Pepper
Right alongside salt, black pepper is among the most commonly used seasonings on the planet. Pepper can be sprinkled on a lot of things, from casseroles to soups, even simple rice dishes. Just like with any seasoning or spice though, you want to be careful of how much you use on one dish. Better too little pepper than too much! That way you can add a little more the next time you make your dish!
As with pepper, paprika is commonly used in dishes such as casseroles, potato dishes, and curry. You can be more liberal with paprika, as it is full of flavor but light on the spice. Again, if you find that you have used too much or too little, you can be more cautious next time!
Cinnamon is a very diverse spice. It can go on pies and cobblers, but it can also go in coffee or on oatmeal, among many other things. Most of the time, you can find a recipe for dessert that requires it. As with the other spices mentioned above, you will be safe to use too little then too much.
4. Italian Seasoning
Italian seasoning is a mix of oregano, parsley, basil, and other plant based seasonings usually associated with Italian food. None of them are extremely spicy or strong on the taste buds, but the all have their own touch of flavor. Italian seasoning goes well on most things pasta based. It also goes well on garlic bread and mashed potatoes.
So if you are a beginner cook, getting into the culinary arts and wonder where to start with spices, turn to Spice Station Spices. They can help guide you in the right direction! Their spices range from basic to professional, fit for any chef to use!
Spice up your Smoothie!
Thanks to the pandemic, if such an event deserves praise at all, many people have been eating at home a lot more frequently than before. This had led them to re-examine their typical dietary habits and created an enhanced interest in eating healthier. Here are some delicious ways to spice up your smoothie. After all, 12 months of Doritos and cheese dip for dinner is quite enough!
Deprived of their morning beverage stop on the way into work, great numbers of shut-ins are now busily learning how to produce their own libations. What they frequently discover is that they can make their own for a mere fraction of what they were being charged and can then tweak it to perfectly suit their own personal tastes.
When To Say When
With a luscious fruit smoothie becoming the quick and easy breakfast of choice, knowing how to spice up your smoothie is turning into something of a new art. Even if you really love a particular spice, it is not always a universal remedy. Some fruit combinations can really pop with the right spices while others can be turned into glop by adding the wrong spice or overdoing it. Always start small when adding spices and then work your way up. Adding is easy. Subtracting is all but impossible unless you want to make a double serving.
The Old Standby
One of the favorite ways to spice up your smoothie is to touch it up with a little vanilla. Vanilla goes with pretty much everything fruity so it is a nice basic choice when starting down the road of experimentation.
Not just for Taco Recipes
The tiniest hint of cayenne can rev up the sweetness of many fruits such as strawberries and mangoes. Yes, it sounds unlikely, but give it a test on just a spoonful or two of your regular smoothie. You may have just discovered a smoothie secret weapon that nobody else around you knows about.
The Beast From The East
Ginger is an addition to many tropical fruit-based smoothies. It is a strong spice, particularly when freshly prepared, so be careful. Some people love ginger. Some like it. Some can’t stand the slightest whiff of it, so ask first before treating your friends.
Stick It To You Smoothie
Cinnamon offers another nice contrast to your underlying flavor of smoothie. Somewhat like cayenne, you want just a touch, not a handful, in your morning pick-me-up.
Spice up your Smoothie
Regardless of what spice you may prefer, you can always mix and match as well. If you have the ingredients in your spice rack, give them a try. Keep in mind that all of this eating healthier experimentation can get scrambled up if you stumble across a particularly luscious combination on an otherwise busy day. Once you hit upon a mixture that you particularly like, be sure and jot down the ingredients while they are still fresh in your mind. You will thank yourself the next time you want to sample that particular delight.
Spice Up Your Hot Chocolate
During the colder months, hot chocolate becomes a standard drink in many households. It almost becomes a wintertime ritual on cold, blustery days. Whether it’s instant or made from milk and cocoa, every family has their “go-to” method of making hot chocolate. Warm your cold-weather hot beverage with a dash of spice.
Spices to add
- Commonly paired with hot chocolate, cinnamon adds earthy warmth. Stir in a dash of Saigon cinnamon for an added layer of flavor. If you start with milk and cocoa, use cinnamon sugar for a sweeter drink. Or sweeten the milk with a dab of molasses.
- There are many spices used in desserts and sweet dishes, including allspice. Despite the name, allspice is not a blend of spices. Allspice is processed from the dried berries of a plant in the myrtle family.
- Add a dash of green cardamom for a unique, complex flavor. Cardamon is often used in coffee and tea drinks. Cardamom is one of the most common main ingredients of chai. Use it sparingly, unless you already know you like cardamom.
- Pumpkin fans can create a fall pumpkin hot-chocolate with a little pumpkin puree (1 teaspoon per cup of liquid) and a dash of pumpkin spice.
- Turn up the heat with a dash of cayenne pepper. If you want ‘hot’ hot chocolate, cayenne pepper is the spice to use. Many chocolate manufactures produce chili chocolate. Take advantage of this spicy warm pairing on a day with colder weather. If you know you like it hot, use habanero pepper instead. Or try adding our habanero sugar for some sweet spice.
- If you miss the taste of gingerbread from the holidays of your youth, add ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon, molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Ground clove pairs well with chocolate and is often added to hot drinks along with cinnamon. Clove is another spice to add sparingly. It is easier to add more than diluting after the fact.
- Top off your mug with a dollop or spray of whipped cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint, a dash of cocoa, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Add some color with a maraschino cherry or some orange zest.
- In the morning, add an extra kick with a teaspoon of espresso powder. Turn your hot chocolate into an adult mocha treat by adding a shot of coffee liqueur.
Experiment with your own blend of spices for a truly unique warm hot chocolate experience. You will look forward to those days of colder weather.
Holiday Spice Guide
Do you ever feel like eating something festive during the holidays, and then wonder what the flavor that you are looking for is? The Holiday season is such a favorite for baking and creating dishes that are filled with spices that you do not normally use. All the way from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, we love creating new dishes or timeless ones. This holiday spice guide will help you with what to use in your cooking.
Nutmeg is what makes the most favorite flavors of the holidays such as Egg Nog, and Pumpkin Pie, and apple pie. Not only is it used for sweet treats, but this spice can also be used for roasting vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
Clearly cinnamon is a favorite year-round. It has that smell and flavor that scream holiday warmness after a day of sledding or a brisk walk in the cold. Coming in for a cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon sprinkled on it is divine, but have you ever sprinkled it in your coffee?
What a clever name for a warm spice. Allspice has sweet aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as cloves. This spice is usually ground and put into puddings or bread, as well as pies such as pumpkin or apple. Our whole version can be used when making mulled wine or even brining a turkey.
These are just a few of the flavors of the holidays that we love. Time off of work, sitting around with loved ones, what else are you going to do but cook and enjoy the flavors of the season. If you can not remember the last time you used your cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice, we suggest throwing them out and treating yourself to the freshness of our spice station spices, all shipped to your doorstep. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Spices to Bring to Your Next Camping Trip
Everyone is a fan of delicious food. After spending all day on various outdoor activities while camping, the least you can do is prepare a delightful and flavorful meal by cooking with spices. Being outdoors should not be an excuse to eat mediocre food. Therefore, during your next camping trip, don’t forget the spices.
Salt alone cannot do the magic. However, since you want to pack light, you might not carry all your spices. Here are some essentials that can spice up your trip.
Cinnamon goes along with almost every meal. Besides making your meals in the wilderness taste better, it also has many health benefits. For instance, it has been proven to lower both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You can add cinnamon to your yogurt or coffee in the morning or your hot apple juice after a long day for a kick.
Cayenne pepper is definitely every kitchen essential, including your camping kitchen. It comes in handy when preparing some chili for your family or friends. You can also add it to other dishes, like Mexican food.
Turmeric might not sound like an essential, especially during a camping trip. However, if you appreciate cooking with spices, you might want to bring it along with you. It goes well with beef and chicken. You can also use turmeric to spice up your freshly caught fish as well as giving your rice a pop of color. Just like cinnamon, it also has some health benefits. It helps with digestion and serves as an excellent anti-inflammatory.
Curry powder is a blend of many Indian spices, making it very rich with flavor. You can use it to prepare vegetable stews as well as meats. Since curry powder is a combination of many spices, you can ditch other spices and still achieve a bold flavor.
Since people season their food differently, you might need to experiment prior to the camping trip. That way, you will know what combination works for you and who you will be going with. Prepare a packing list so that you don’t forget the spices. Remember to pack your spices in waterproof containers.
See our varieties of spices here.
Eat Cinnamon Every Day For Better Health
Cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon toast crunch. Cinnamon apple crisp. These cinnamon-based dishes are not only delicious, but you may be surprised to hear that the cinnamon in them provides a wealth of health benefits, too. There are many health benefits of cinnamon that you may not have known about. After reading the following list, you may begin using cinnamon in your everyday cooking and food preparation more and more.
Cinnamon has antioxidants
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals in your body that may cause damage to your cells and lead to degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Cinnamon is chock-full of antioxidants. It even has more than the presumably healthier “superfoods” such as garlic or oregano. Therefore, a steady diet of cinnamon may help bring you to the regular level of antioxidants you need to avoid contracting these terrible diseases.
Cinnamon may prevent heart disease
Another major health benefit of cinnamon and its regular consumption is that it may prevent heart disease. Studies have been conducted that showed people who consumed small samples of cinnamon per day saw a significant decrease in their LDL cholesterol levels, which are known to clog arteries and cause heart disease. In addition, the people who ate cinnamon saw their triglyceride levels go down as well. These two factors combined make it likely that cinnamon consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cinnamon Can Fight Diabetes
The nutritional community is well aware of cinnamon’s ability to lower blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that taking as little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 30%. It does this through two molecular interactions. First, it blocks several digestive enzymes which slows down the breakdown of carbs into sugar. Second, cinnamon mimics insulin and is able to have your cells take in glucose at a slower and more steady rate.
There are many health benefits of cinnamon that you may not have been aware of. Now that you have learned some major ones, go ahead and find more and more opportunities to eat cinnamon every day!
See our cinnamon varieties here.
Are you a vegan cook? Here are all the must-have spices for vegan cooking!
Spices For Vegan Cooking
Tumeric has a slightly peppery, ginger flavor. You can use it fresh or in the most common form, powder. It’s mainly used in Thai and Indian dishes. It has health benefits too like fighting inflammation.
Cinnamon is used in many different types of dessert dishes especially in fall and winter ones. It’s great to pair with sweeter foods like fruits, but it also adds flavor to teas and even bread. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help stabilize blood sugars as well.
3. Red Pepper Flakes
Red Pepper Flakes are commonly used in Spanish and Italian dishes and are known for their extra kick of spice. They are full of antioxidants, help with suppressing appetite, boost your metabolism, and help in inflammation.
Cumin is extremely popular when it comes to spices for vegan cooking. It has an earthy flavor and is used commonly in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes. It has health benefits like being a source of iron, magnesium, and helps with digestion.
Garlic may be a basic ingredient for cooking, but it adds a ton of flavor to any dish. You can mince it fresh from cloves or use the powder. It has tons of health benefits beginning with vitamins, helping with colds, and reducing blood pressure.
As you can see, adding these must-have spices to your dishes will improve on any recipe and even gives you some added health bonuses. Hopefully, this list helps you when you make your next trip to the grocery store and you will have an idea of what spice to buy based on the dish you are making. For more information check out this video.
Did you buy winter spices for holiday baking, eggnog, mulling, ciders et al and now you’re wondering what shall become of those jars that are 9/10ths full? Spice Station to the rescue! Nutmeg, a very common winter spice, likes anything, pairs well with potatoes au gratin! We will eat anything with potatoes, heavy cream and cheese but throw a layer of dried porcini mushrooms into this dish and we’ll be at your door before you can shake a lamb shank. (Which, does nicely with onion and garlic sauteed with a dash of nutmeg and garam masala.) Combined with butter, flour and a bay leaf, you’ll have a classic bechamel for a baked pasta dish. Really, anything with cream can usually do with a bit of nutmeg.
Allspice also goes great with lamb and Caribbean jerk dishes. As you know, cinnamon is very friendly with the apple and apple is great with pork dishes. Try roasting a pork loin in some apple juice and halved red apples sprinkled with cinnamon. (If you wrap that puppy in bacon you’ll really be rolling.) As far as cloves go, they are a must-have in a glazed ham (with brown sugar, honey and a dash of dry mustard) but those decorative pomanders (clove-studded oranges) aren’t just for the holidays — they make great sachets for drawers and cupboards all year round. Be careful around clothing though as clove is derived from the Latin word ‘Clavus’ which means ‘nail’.’ If you find people sniffing at you, well, take it as a compliment. If they look like they might take a bite out of you consider making a run for it.
Find more spices for meal ideas, new spice ideas and more by browsing our blog, here! Shop for unique spices from around the world, here! Questions? Contact us here! We love to hear from our online community! Feel free to submit a recipe, blog post and more!