The cinnamon stick comes from the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. The sticks are formed when sections of bark are stripped from the cinnamon tree. The inner red-colored bark gets the rough exterior scraped off, then the remaining bark curls naturally as it dries. The long pieces are cut into small sections and sold as cinnamon sticks, and the remaining bits are ground to make the all-familiar ground cinnamon most of have on our spice rack.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon is equal to 1, 3" stick of cinnamon.
There are two varieties of cinnamon, Cinnamon zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamon cassia (cassia) with the Ceylon cinnamon being "true" cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon is softer, easier to grind, and has a sweeter but more pungent flavor. You can find this at Mexican stores under the name Canela.
Cinnamon is used in many countries. In Mexico, it is used a lot in Mexican beverages such as Mexican Chocolate and other dishes like mole sauce.
In India, it's used in many dishes, including my favorite Indian rice dish called Goan Rice PIlaf. In Europe, it is commonly used in breads, cakes, and pastries.
metric conversions →
Whole cinnamon sticks, no preservatives or additives.
The easiest way to grind a hard (or soft) cinnamon stick is to break it up into pieces, place it in a small electric spice or coffee grinder. Don't put too much of the hard cinnamon stick in your grinder at one time. The blades can bind, and the hard cinnamon is pretty rough on the blade. For Mexican cooking, you can grind the canela sticks in a molcajete if you have one if you want to use the more traditional tool. A Thai Mortar will work for grinding the harder stick cinnamon.
This is a pretty standard grocery store item. Mostly you'll find the harder Cassia bark. Look for Ceylon cinnamon at grocery stores that feature Hispanic ingredients. Most of the ground cinnamon you buy is Cassia. You can also purchase Ceylon cinnamon online at Amazon.com.