Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Christmas Herbs and Spices - Cinnamon
Who doesn't love the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house when the Christmas baking has begun? Or the fragrance of a cinnamon scented candle? It brings feelings "of comfort and joy."
The third in my series of Christmas Herbs and Spices actually comes from an evergreen tree that was native to Sri Lanka. It was first brought to Egypt in 2000 BC. Soon the Arabs began harvesting cinnamon as a crop, and having a monopoly on this highly prized spice, they tried to conceal the whereabouts of their trees. Ships belonging to Alexander the Great merely followed the wonderful scent along the coast of Arabia until they discovered the secret woodlands. It was the Dutch East India Company that cultivated these trees instead of just harvesting in the wild, beginning a business that thrived into the 1700s.
Cinnamon comes form the bark of the tree, but it's quite a task to bring you this fragrant spice. First the tree is cut to the ground. Shoots form around the base of the trunk; they are allowed to grow for a year or two and then those shoots are stripped to the inner bark which are then allowed to dry which causes the curling. It is then cut into 6-12 inch strips.
Cinnamon is mentioned many times in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Victorians used it to represent forgiveness of injuries. It's no wonder it's a favorite at Christmastime.
May your Holidays be blessed and may you smell and taste the many wonders of the Christmas Season.
Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Happenstance House -- A journal about my Victorian home and all of it's contents.