Agriculture / Cinnamon

15 Things You Might Not Know About Cinnamon

You know it gives chai tea, cinnamon buns and snickerdoodles a special kick. Now, 15 things you might not know about one of the world’s most popular spices.

A pile of cinnamon bark on one of the world's first Rainforest Alliance Certified cinnamon farms.

A pile of cinnamon bark on one of the world’s first Rainforest Alliance Certified cinnamon farms.

  1. Cinnamon is the common name for nearly a dozen species of evergreen trees in the genus cinnamomum. Just a few of these trees are grown commercially for spice.
  2. In Indonesian, the cinnamomum burmannii tree is known as kayu manis or sweet wood.
  3. The first-ever Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cinnamon farms are situated in Kerinci, Indonesia, and belong to a group of 268 cinnamon farmers.
  4. The bark of the cinnamon tree is stripped, dried and ground to make the fine powder most think of as cinnamon.
  5. Cinnamon is harvested just once every 10 to 15 years, so most producers see only two or three harvests in their lifetime.
  6. The earliest the first harvest can take place is eight years after planting, when young trees yield about 5 kgs (11 lbs) of dry cinnamon.
  7. When cinnamon trees are young, their thin bark naturally curls into tight rolls which are sold as “cinnamon sticks” in grocery stores.
  8. Production increases and bark thickens over time–improving the concentration of volatile oils and giving cinnamon a richer, more intense flavor.
  9. Cinnamon forests grow naturally, without the aid of agrochemicals, and are intercropped with other trees.
  10. In Indonesia, locals call cinnamon the “grass of Kerinci” because it begins to grow back almost immediately after it is cut.
  11. Most Indonesian cinnamon farmers grow their trees on small, remote parcels of land (known as bidangs) alongside other native species like surian, jati and malaku.
  12. Producers in Indonesia consider cinnamon to be a “savings account.” They hire a team to harvest their forests only when additional income is necessary. A farmer might, for example, utilize his cinnamon to finance a family wedding.
  13. Since Indonesian cinnamon plots are usually located outside of villages, water buffalo are used to transport the bark to collection points in villages.
  14. A typical cinnamon harvest yields about 450 kgs (1,000 lbs) of cinnamon, but production can vary greatly depending on the age of cinnamon trees.
  15. In Indonesia, harvesters say they prefer to work on Rainforest Alliance Certified cinnamon plots because they are paid 9 percent more per kg harvested on this land. They are also being good neighbors to wildlife–including the endangered Sumatran tiger–and the environment.

 

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