The Supreme All-Season Spice
Cinnamon as a summer spice may seem strange at first but the cozy fragrance and flavor of cinnamon that usually invokes the wintertime, is the perfect addition to all sorts of summer recipes (and showers). Factoid: Cinnamon actually comes from tropical climates in India and Southeast Asia. It pairs beautifully with warm sun, al fresco desserts and summer cocktails. How would we make it through the season with a cold glass of horchata now and then? And what would our summertime favorite, peach pie be like without a sweet and spicy touch of cinnamon?
The Real Deal
Cinnamon comes in either of two varieties: Ceylon and Cassia. Each comes from the same genus– but separate species–of evergreen tree. While Ceylon is considered a truer/purer cinnamon by hard-core cinnamon fanatics, the cassia variety is more common and more popular in the United States, probably because of its intense flavor.
Ground vs Stick
The choice is up to you on this one, but I recommend having both on hand (though some swear by one or the other, you know how foodies get). I like to keep ground on hand for recipes that require measuring. I’m not a fan of extra steps when I’m whipping up food on a weeknight. It’s about a 1,000x quicker to measure out a teaspoon of ground cinnamon than grinding it yourself (though it’s not that hard).
The major benefit of stick over pre-ground is you know you’re getting some seriously fresh cinnamon in your recipe. Plus you’ll know your cinnamon contains cinnamon and nothing else. Sticks also last longer than you might realize. You can keep them for months or even years in a tightly sealed container, and if you drop one into a tea or an infusion—or place one on top of your coffee grounds before you brew (highly recommended)– you can remove it post brewing or steeping and use it again and again. Just rinse it with warm water and allow it to dry before re-storing. It’s the spice that keeps going and going and going.
Bonus: It’s Healthy Too
Cinnamon isn’t just comforting and delicious; it’s also beneficial. The spice contains anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants and it’s been linked to healthier brain function and, according to some, a reduced risk of high cholesterol. Win, win!!