Cinnamon is a popular spice, obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savory foods. Two species of the cinnamon tree are most common, and provide most of the spice sold worldwide. The spice from Cinnamomum Cassia has a stronger taste and dark brown color. This version of the spice is popular in the United States. Ceylon "True" cinnamon is a common term for the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, a native of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Ceylon True Cinnamon is praised for its health benefits and not to mention its deliciousness in apple pie!
When buying cinnamon for a particular purpose or if consumer a large amount of cinnamon its is worth knowing the difference between cinnamon and cassia. The differentiation can be seen mainly in the cinnamon sticks,
1. Ceylon true cinnamon sticks are light brown in color, they are thin and has a softer appearance. Whereas cassia has a dark brown color, hard and thick sticks.
2. Ceylon true cinnamon, or real cinnamon from Ceylon is composed of multiple layers like a cigar whereas cassia has a hollow tube and the bark curls inward on both ends.
3. Ceylon true cinnamon has a delicate aroma but that of cassia is harsh.
4. Try tasting both, Ceylon true cinnamon has a sweet delicate taste and Cassia has a certain hotness or spiciness.
5. Look for the country of origin, Ceylon true cinnamon is from Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon when British crown colony), where as cassia is grown in China, Southeast Asia.
6. Cassia is also known as Saigon cinnamon and the real one is called Real cinnamon, Ceylon true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon.
7. Ceylon true cinnamon contains low levels of coumarin, where as cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin, It is not advisable to consume large amounts of cassia cinnamon.
8. When it comes to powder it is difficult to identify cassia from Ceylon true cinnamon. Wikipedia suggests this test: The powdered bark is harder to distinguish, but if it is treated with tincture of iodine (a test for starch), little effect is visible with pure Ceylon cinnamon, but when Chinese cinnamon is present, a deep-blue tint is produced.
Other sources describing the difference
1. What is the difference between cinnamon and cassia? - whfood.com
2. Cinnamon - wikipeida.com
3. How to Tell the Difference Between Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia - ehow.com
4. Difference Between Cassia and Cinnamon - Suite101.com