Cinnamon is an exotic, warming spice that has a multitude of culinary uses. It is used extensively around the globe, but is especially prevalent in Indian and North American food. My favourite ways of using it are when making homemade garam masala, as well as to give a comforting lift to porridge and hot chocolate during the cold winter months. Cinnamon is also considered to be a therapeutic, healing spice as there are numerous medicinal properties and health benefits associated with its consumption.
Until recently I took cinnamon for granted and thought that I knew all there was to know about what I considered to be an everyday spice. All of this changed when I discovered a specialist cinnamon company, Cinnamon Hill, at this year’s Spirit of Christmas show at London Olympia. It was especially lovely to discover them at a Christmas event, as cinnamon’s iconic aroma and flavour are associated with Christmas and the festive season.
Cinnamon Hill is a producer and exporter of 2 varieties of high grade cinnamon that are sourced from Sri Lanka and Vietnam. These cinnamons are created from the barks of 2 different kinds of trees that are part of the Cinnamomum family. Sri Lanka’s indigenous variety of cinnamon is Cinnamomum verum or true cinnamon. This kind of cinnamon, which is also known as Ceylon cinnamon, has a warm, subtle, zesty flavour profile. It is made up of several layers of fine bark intricately rolled into a quill, somewhat akin to a cigar, as can be seen below.
Vietnamese cassia or Saigon cinnamon has a bolder, hotter, sweeter taste than Ceylon cinnamon. It also has a simpler, single layered structure and is made from a harder, thicker kind of bark than it’s Sri Lankan cousin.
Aside from being purveyors of delicately piquant cinnamon, the clever people at Cinnamon Hill have also designed and created a unique, beautifully elegant grater that can be used to grind whole cinnamon sticks into a fine-textured powdered form. The grater is made up of a spiral-patterned stainless steel grating plate mounted on an ergonomically-designed, hand-crafted honey oak handle. It is sold with a ceramic storage cup that makes the entire package an attractive and really useful gadget to keep on your kitchen counter top.
I spoke to Rupert Beeley, one of the co-founders of Cinnamon Hill, about their fantastic cinnamon and grater. You can hear the interview in full by clicking on the play button below.