Mar 27, 2011

Reader's Question:: Organic Cinnamon?

A reader asks:
I am curious if you have any info on spices.....are they something that should be purchased organic?  Cinnamon is my main one I am curious about.  I did a quick google search and didn't find any info that popped out at me quickly.  I only had a few minutes.  Just wondering if you have any knowledge about such things. 

Julie says: I practice the 80/20 rule - and spices fall into the unimportant 20% for me (unless the price is near the same)  I figure I don't use that much ...

Erin says: Non-organic spices are irradiated.  You can google irradiation and see if it's something you are concerned about or not.  It's my understanding that irradiation can change the chemical structure so that you may not get the intended benefits (nutritional or medicinal) from the spices.

As far as cinnamon goes, you should know that there are 2 types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia.

A quote:
Often referred to as “real cinnamon” or “true cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum or C. verum) is native to Sri Lanka. This cinnamon is lighter brown in color, papery and brittle and the bark coils into a single spiraled quill.
Ceylon cinnamon is rarely found in United States and has significantly less of the phenolic compound cinnamaldehyde, which imparts the spicy cinnamon flavor and aroma desired by American palates. Instead, this cinnamon has a more delicate and complex flavor, with citrus, floral and clove notes.

You may have seen cinnamon recommended to treat diabetes and other health conditions.  If it's medicinal value you want, then buy Ceylon cinnamon.  We bought some Ceylon cinnamon from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been very pleased.  It has a sweet flavor--so much so that I usually slightly reduce the amount of sugar in recipes that call for both.

If you like the spiciness of grocery store cinnamon and aren't concerned about medicinal benefits, then cassia cinnamon is a great choice.

Lisa says:  I don’t really know how pesticide-laden these items are.  They seem like a small addition, since you usually only add them in small amounts, but I use them generously in my cooking and with herbs they started as a much larger amount before being dried to remove the water (which I guess would concentrate the pesticides?).

I buy as many things organic as I can.  I save money by purchasing a lot of organic herbs and spices in 1lb. bags from Azure Standard and then keep them in my freezer, or seal them airtight with my food savor.

What do you buy?

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