Sri Lankan Cinnamon Drying processes
Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. There are many different species, between 50 and 250, depending on which botanist you choose to believe. The two main varieties are Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum. The first, cassia, we will consider separately in its own section. C. zeylanicum is also known as Ceylon cinnamon (the source of the its Latin name, zeylanicum), or â€˜true cinnamonâ€™ which is a lighter colour and possessing a sweeter, more delicate flavour than cassia. A native of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) the best cinnamon grows along the coastal strip near Colombo. Agricultural and botanical aspects Cinnamon is an evergreen tree that is kept as a bush to a height of 2-3m. The soil conditions are very important, as a waterlogged soil will produce a bitter cinnamon bark. Harvesting The plant is harvested during the wet season since the rains facilitate the peeling of the bark. Harvesting involves the removal of the stems. This takes place early in the morning. Processing â€¢ The tender stems (with diameters of less than 1.2cm) are removed and used for mulching. â€¢ Stems with diameters of more than 5cm are not used to prepare cinnamon bark. â€¢ The leaves are removed and can be used for oil distillation. â€¢ The soft outer bark is stripped off using a fine rounded rasp knife. â€¢ The stripped stem is rubbed with a brass rod to loosen the inner bark. â€¢ Cuts are made around the stem at 30cm intervals using a small pointed knife. This knife should be stainless steel or brass to prevent staining. â€¢ The longitudinal cuts are made on either side of the stem and the bark carefully eased off using pointed knife and rubbing rod. â€¢ The curled pieces of peeled bark (quills) are placed one inside another to make 1m long â€˜compound quillsâ€™. The best quills are placed on the outside and broken and small pieces in the centre. Drying The â€˜compound quillsâ€™ are placed on coir rope racks and dried, in the shade to prevent warping.