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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What’s the Difference? Ceylon, Korintje, and Saigon Cinnamon

Here at Bazaar Spices, we carry three types of cinnamon: Ceylon Cinnamon, Korintje Cinnamon, and Saigon Cinnamon. While all types are a species of the Cinnamomum genus (see my previous post), they are all distinctly unique.

Ceylon Cinnamon

First, Ceylon Cinnamon: Commonly referred to as “true” cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon hails from, you guessed it, Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). This variety of cinnamon is delicately flavored and more complex in taste than cassia. The easiest way to spot Ceylon cinnamon sticks (as opposed to cassia sticks) is by its texture – if the sticks crumble easily, they are Ceylon, but if they are hard and more uniform, they are cassia. Ceylon Cinnamon is also slightly more expensive than Korintje and Saigon, primarily because Ceylon Cinnamon is only grown in certain parts of Sri Lanka, which happens to be a fairly tiny island, and thus less exists in the world. Classic supply and demand.

Where do you use Ceylon Cinnamon? Wherever you like! Its delicate flavor lends itself well to baked goods, where it won’t overpower and hit you on the head with a bolt of cinnamon, but it’s also wonderful in savory dishes, like curries or roasted vegetables.

Korintje Cinnamon
On to Korintje: Native to Indonesia, Korinjte is a type of cassia and is also the imported cassia of choice in the U.S. To make things more confusing for you, the FDA does not require stores to distinguish between types of cinnamon, meaning that if a label says simply “Cinnamon!” then it’s more often than not a type of cassia cinnamon. But, even though Korintje is more common and even likely sitting on your grocery store shelves, you should still seek out higher qualities of Korintje (hint: the store will tell you that it’s Korintje). As with most spices, you can taste the difference in quality.

So you have your Korintje, but where do you use it? Since Korintje is a more mild form of cassia with a balanced, smooth taste, it is also quite versatile. I like it in pies, broiled with sugar on toast, dashed in my coffee, or stirred into tomato sauce.

Saigon Cinnamon

And finally, Saigon Cinnamon: Native to Southeast Asia, Saigon Cinnamon is the sweetest, spiciest, and loudest of the cinnamons at Bazaar Spices. Stop by the shop and smell it for yourself – even through the packaging, Saigon’s smell will get you.

This is the cinnamon you choose when you want everyone to know that there is cinnamon in your food. I prefer it in baked goods (especially with chocolate) over savory, but the warming qualities of Saigon would be excellent in a winter stew.

Now that you know all about cinnamon, stay tuned for recipes featuring each kind!

This post is part of our series on cinnamon. For others in the series check out:
A Short Summary of Cinnamon
What’s the Difference? Ceylon, Korintje, and Saigon Cinnamon
Orange Pomander Balls with Ceylon Cinnamon and Cloves
Cinnamon Spiked Tomato Sauce
Raw Vegan Cinnamon Rolls


Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara, her mom, and her sister started a food blog of their own, The Troika Table. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and also works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. 

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