Cassia Cinnamon Chips: At a Glance
Cassia cinnamon (also known as Chinese cinnamon or Chinese cassia) is a widely consumed variety of cinnamon. About 75 percent of the cinnamon consumed in North America is cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon has a slightly milder flavor than its cousin ceylon cinnamon, and it has a lower oil content. Cinnamon chips are derived from the bark of the cinnamon tree, which is pounded or blended to make ground cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon chips can be powdered using a home spice grinder and added to many recipes, sweet or savory. It is used to flavor desserts, such as cakes, cookies, pastries and pies, and main dishes, such as curries and meat. Cassia cinnamon is a good ingredient in dishes where the stronger ceylon cinnamon would be overpowering.
In addition to being used in baking and cooking, cinnamon has been touted for its health benefits. It is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.
Cooking with Cassia Cinnamon Chips
Having cassia cinnamon chips at home will allow you to grind fresh cinnamon on demand. Fresh cinnamon provides your dishes with the best flavor profile. Compared to other varieties of cinnamon, most people find cassia cinnamon to have a more delicate flavor with a pleasantly woody aftertaste.
Many dishes from around the world can incorporate cassia chips, including:
- Stewed meat – when simmered with lamb, cardamom, garlic, and curry leaves, cassia chips can contribute to a rich and complex curry. After simmering, the used cassia bark is discarded.
- Curry powder – when roasted and ground, cassia cinnamon chips can be combined with ingredients such as coriander and cumin seeds, cardamom pods, fenugreek, pepper, and chilies to make madras curry powder, a popular Indian spice mix.
- Five-spice powder – a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, five-spice powder brings together all five flavor profiles: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent. Cassia cinnamon is one of the five ingredients in this popular seasoning mix.
Cassia cinnamon has an easily identifiable flavor profile, including sweet, fragrant, aromatic, and delicate notes. It has a noticeable spicy-warm flavor that complements spices such as cloves and cardamom.
Cassia Cinnamon Chips: History and Origination
Cassia cinnamon’s flavor and history is distinct from those of other cinnamon varieties. Cassia cinnamon’s name in Chinese was originally kwei-shi. In 2016 BC, Chinese emperor Qin Shihuangdi of the Qin dynasty renamed one of his most prized conquests “Kweilin” for its flourishing cassia groves.
The cassia variety of cinnamon has been traded since the second and third centuries BC. Some historians believe that the cinnamon referred to in the Bible was cassia cinnamon, not ceylon cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon has had many names throughout history, and it became popular in Europe and Asia for its fragrant, spicy, and woody characteristics.
Cassia cinnamon is found in many of the world’s great spice mixtures, from Chinese five-spice powder to qalat daqqa in the Middle East, to moles in Mexico, to the spice blends found in any kitchen in the United States. Ancient Chinese and Indian herbalists used cassia cinnamon to treat pain. In the sixth century BC, the Greeks, Hebrews and Romans used it for flavoring, for perfumes, and to address stomach pains.
Cassia cinnamon chips come from the bark of the cinnamon tree. The cinnamon tree is an evergreen tree that is cultivated widely in China and throughout Asia, including India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Cultivation of Cassia Cinnamon Chips
Cassia cinnamon grows throughout Asia, but a few Chinese provinces, such as the southeast provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, are the most notable producers of the spice. Today, most cassia cinnamon comes from cultured, managed habitats rather than wild landscapes.
Cinnamon trees require low altitudes and wet, hot, tropical climates to thrive. These evergreen trees can grow up to 500 meters above sea level, and they do best in places where the temperature ranges between 15 and 32 degrees Celsius.
When a cassia cinnamon tree is two years old, cultivators cut the tree back to a stump and cover it with dirt. New shoots will emerge the following year, and cassia cinnamon is derived from these shoots. The shoots are cut and stripped of their bark, which is dried in the sun or in artificial dryers. As it dries, the bark turns into the iconic cinnamon quills.
Rolls of cassia cinnamon bark often resemble a scroll with two loops, while ceylon cinnamon is typically just one roll. Cassia cinnamon quills can be easily identified by their rough, bark-like texture.
About Our Cassia Cinnamon Chips
Our Cassia cinnamon is from China, where cassia (Chinese) cinnamon originated. A high concentration of cinnamaldehyde gives our cassia cinnamon a spicy, complex sweetness.
Our cassia cinnamon chips come in small pieces, which makes them easier to grind with a home spice grinder. You can also dry-roast the cassia chips to activate their essential oils and enhance their flavor.