Cinnamon is harvested from the bark of cinnamon trees, specifically from the inner bark of certain species in the Cinnamomum genus. The process of cinnamon harvesting involves the following steps:
Cultivation: Cinnamon trees are grown in tropical regions, primarily in countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam. They require a warm climate, abundant rainfall, and well-drained soil to thrive.
Maturation: Cinnamon trees typically take about two to three years to mature. Once they reach the desired age, the outer bark of the tree is cut away to expose the inner bark.
Stripping the Bark: Harvesters use special tools, such as sharp knives or small machetes, to carefully strip away the thin layer of bark from the branches and trunk of the tree. The outer bark is removed first, exposing the smooth, reddish-brown inner bark.
Peeling the Inner Bark: After removing the outer bark, the inner bark is delicately peeled away in long, thin strips. Harvesters need to be cautious not to damage the underlying layers of the tree during this process.
Drying: The strips of cinnamon bark are laid out in a well-ventilated area to dry. As they dry, the bark naturally curls inward, forming the characteristic cinnamon sticks or quills. The drying process takes several days and allows the bark to develop its distinct flavor and aroma.
Cutting and Grading: Once the bark is dry, it is cut into smaller sections, typically 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) in length, and sorted based on quality. The cinnamon sticks are graded based on thickness, color, aroma, and appearance.
Packaging: After grading, the cinnamon sticks are packaged and prepared for distribution and export. They are often bundled together or packed in containers to protect them during transportation.
It’s worth noting that there are different types of cinnamon, including Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” cinnamon) and Cassia cinnamon. The harvesting process is generally similar for both types, but they come from different species of trees and have slightly different characteristics.