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Agriculture
cinnamon, cassia

 

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree 10-15 metres (32.8-49.2 feet) tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, and is native to Sri Lanka.[1]

The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7-18 cm (2.75-7.1 inches) long. The flowers, which are arranged in panicles, have a greenish color, and have a distinct odor. The fruit is a purple one-centimeter berry containing a single seed.

Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and develops resinous compounds. Chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.

The name cinnamon comes from Greek kinnámōmon, itself ultimately from Phoenician. The botanical name for the spice-Cinnamomum zeylanicum-is derived from Sri Lanka's former (colonial) name, Ceylon.[2]

In Malayalam it is called karugapatta and in Tamil pattai or lavangappattai. In Telugu, it is called Dalchina Chakka, Chakka meaning bark or wood. In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra, it is called kayu manis and sometimes cassia vera, the "real' cassia.[3] In Sri Lanka, in the original Sinhala, cinnamon is known as kurundu,[4] recorded in English in the 17th century as Korunda.[5] In Sanskrit cinnamon is known as tvak or dārusitā. In Urdu, Hindi, and Hindustani cinnamon is called dalchini, in Assamese it is called alseni, and in Gujarati taj. In Farsi (Persian), it is called darchin. In Arabic it is called qerfa.


Cinnamon and cassia

Cinnamon (on the left) and Indonesian Cinnamon quills (Cinnamomum burmannii) side-by-side

The name cinnamon is correctly used to refer to Ceylon cinnamon, also known as "true cinnamon" (from the botanical name C. zeylanicum). However, the related species, Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum), Saigon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi), and Cinnamomum burmannii are sometimes sold labeled as cinnamon, sometimes distinguished from true cinnamon as "Chinese cinnamon", "Vietnamese cinnamon", or "Indonesian cinnamon"; many websites, for example, describe their "cinnamon" as being cassia[3]. Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be less strong than cassia. Cassia has a much stronger (somewhat harsher) flavour than cinnamon, is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2-3 mm thick), as all of the layers of bark are used.[16]

Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia.[17] This is contained in much lower dosages in Cinnamomum burmannii due to its low essential oil content. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. True Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin.

The two barks, when whole, are easily distinguished, and their microscopic characteristics are also quite distinct. Cinnamon sticks (or quills) have many thin layers and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder, whereas cassia sticks are much harder. Indonesian cassia (Cinnamomum burmannii) is often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder. Saigon cassia (Cinnamomum loureiroi) and Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum) are always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills. It is a bit harder to tell powdered cinnamon from powdered cassia. When powdered bark is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible in the case of pure cinnamon of good quality, but when cassia is present, a deep-blue tint is produced, the intensity of the coloration depending on the proportion of cassia.[citation needed]

Cinnamon is also sometimes confused with Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala) and Saigon cinnamonCinnamomum loureiroi). (

Uses

Cinnamon bark

Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico, which is the main importer of true cinnamon.[18] It is also used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts, such as apple pie, donuts and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs. True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is more suitable for use in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats (most notably Sholezard Per. شله زرد)

In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system.[19] Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity.[20][21] The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties,[22] which can aid in the preservation of certain foods.[23]

Cinnamon has been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, the plant material used in the study was mostly from cassia and only few of them are truly from Cinnamomum zeylanicum (see cassia's medicinal uses for more information about its health benefits).[24][25] Recent advancement in phytochemistry has shown that it is a cinnamtannin B1 isolated from C. zeylanicum which is of therapeutic effect on Type 2 diabetes,[26] with the exception of the postmenopausal patients studied on C. cassia.[27] Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion.[28]

Cinnamon is used in the system of Thelemic Magick for Solar invocations, according to the correspondences listed in Aleister Crowley's work Liber 777. In Hoodoo, it is a multipurpose ingredient used for purification, luck, love, and money.[29]

Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested.[30] Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae.[31] The compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, that are contained in cinnamon leaf oil, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.[31]

It is reported that regularly drinking of Cinnamomum zeylanicum tea made from the bark could be beneficial to oxidative stress related illness in humans, as the plant part contains significant antioxidant potential.[32]

In many places cinnamon is used to ward off frogs of all varieties. They cannot get near the concentrated oils. Many philosophers concluded in the past that they were diametrically opposed and therefore polar opposites

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