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History of Cinnamon

Cinnamon – (Cinnamomum Zelanicum) was known to the Chinese as long as 2,500 BC and in its early history was more precious than gold. It was a valuable commodity in ancient Arabia where priests alone had the right to collect it. The first bundle was offered to the sun and was then used to kindle the sacred fire on the altar where the high priest was to offer sacrifice.

The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon for embalming and in witchcraft and in 1485 BC Queen Hatshesput is reported as dispatching rigged ships to the land of Punt (Somalia) to bring back frankincense, cinnamon, baboons, dogs and myrrh.

First documented as the product of Ceylon in 1275, cinnamon was to play a vital role in bringing the East into contact with Europe. Up until that time all spices were supposed to have come from the Garden of Eden by way of the Euphrates, “a river which floweth from paradise."

When the Portuguese landed in Ceylon in 1500 they found cinnamon growing in the wild and by 1536 they were occupying the country mainly to obtain supplies of the spice. The King of Ceylon was forced to pay to the Portuguese an annual tribute of 25,000 pounds of cinnamon bark! In 1796 Ceylon passed into British hands and cinnamon became a monopoly of the British East India Company and so remained until 1833.

True cinnamon is indigenous to Sri Lanka, it is the bark of a bushy evergreen tree of the Laurel family, the cinnamon garden in Sri Lanka lie on the coastal plains south of Colombo.Today, the spice is cultivated in Java, Burma South America and the West Indies.

One acre will yield between 100 and 150 lb (45-67.5 kg) tick cinnamon. The spice consists of the inner bark, the shoots are pooled, then rubbed to loosen the bark which is split and peeled.

The peels are then telescoped into one another to form a quill about 42 inches (1 metre) long, before being dried and bleached ready for marketing.



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