This popular spice is the peeled inner bark of an evergreen tree, Cinnamomum verum, that grows in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China. The outer bark of the tree is stripped off first and the inner bark is then removed. The long strips of bark are formed into quills up to 1m long, these are trimmed and dried and cut into shorter lengths and sold as cinnamon sticks.
Ground cinnamon is simply as the name suggests - ground cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon has an exotic, sweet fragrance and a sweet, warm flavour. Cinnamon sticks do not appear to have a very strong aroma but they give off a delicious sweet flavour when they are broken or ground.
Uses: Cinnamon is used in a selection of sweet and savoury dishes including beef and pork recipes and curries. Moroccan tagines or lamb stews with dried fruits benefit from a sprinkling of cinnamon. A pinch of cinnamon livens up stewed fruits, cakes and puddings and it complements chocolate-flavoured recipes - stir a mug of hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick for a delicious flavour. And a couple of cinnamon sticks in mulled wine give a rich, spicy aroma.
To store: Store in an airtight jar in a cool dark cupboard.