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Dec 14, 2010 08:11 AM

When to use Cinnamon Quills?

I'm new to using cinnamon quills and curious when and why to use them over ground cinnamon.

I understand that over time, ground cinnamon can loose its punch but provided it's still got some life left in it, in what situations would a cinnamon quill be favoured over ground cinnamon?

I've been trying it in my oatmeal with not a lot of success. The taste just doesn't really seem to diffuse in the 15 minutes or so it takes for a pot of grains.

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  1. The sticks? Or are you referring to something else?

    I don't bother using the sticks unless what I'm making will be simmering and/or steeping for 40ish minutes or more -- rice pudding, chai, spiced cider, stews, curries, etc. Good rule of thumb is that, if the stick doesn't flatten out, the flavor hasn't gotten into the dish properly. Now that I think about it, I seem to use stick cinnamon more often in savory dishes and drinks, and ground cinnamon more in sweet dishes (rice pudding being the obvious exception.

    Another advantage of the sticks is that you can impart the flavor without having all those tiny brown bits, so if you were making a cinnamon panna cotta or custard, it would be best, IMO, to use the sticks, just leaving plenty of time for them to flavor the mixture through simmering and steeping.

    Now, of course, you can grate the cinnamon fresh using a microplane, or grind it fresh using a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

    1. One of my favourite uses for true cinnamon (Ceylon) as opposed to Cassia is to grind it in my spice grinder to use in seasoning blends such as a Moroccan rub for roast chicken. No comparison between the powder and the sticks in flavour! Another use, of course, is for mulling spices in apple cider and so on. And yet another is in tagines.

      Sorry - I just re-read your question and I didn't completely answer it above. I use it for low and slow cooking (i.e. braising). In fact, I never use ground cinnamon - I always grind my own for a cleaner, fresher flavour. You can make a quick and easy cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on things.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefathome

        I am aware of at least 3 forms of stick cinnamon
        - true cinnamon, a thin bark in scroll like sticks. This is thin enough to grind at home. However most often I steep it in a brown sugar syrup to make a cinnamon tea/syrup
        - fancy Cassia sticks, which seem to work best as coffee stirrers.
        - crude chunks of Vietnamese cinnamon (also cassia), strongly flavored, too hard to grind at home.

        1. re: paulj

          Paul, I nearly forgot about the cinnamon bark chips! Those suckers are really hard to grind, alright. Although my favourite is the true Ceylon there are occasions where the ordinary cassia works just fine!

      2. Whole spices are used quite often in Indian food Biryani springs to mind.
        Whole sticks are also used when braising or simmering like for Bisteeya filling.
        Also for Toddy's and mulled cider or wine.
        Basically any thing you want to flavor with cinnamon but do not want ground spice in it.
        Ground Cinnamon can also make liquids become viscous(snotty).

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefj

          Yeah i've been really puzzled by that snotty cinnamon thing!

          Does anyone know what causes that?

          When you add too much ground cinnamon to liquid it gets really mucousy and thick.

          Could that trait be utilized as an emulsifying agent?