The art of Cinnamon Production

The ideal mix of tropical sunshine and abundant rain along Sri Lanka's western and south-western coastal regions have made these areas ideal Cinnamon growing regions. The sweetest, most prized variety growth in the “silver sand” coastal belt of the Negombo district just North of Colombo. the tropical sunshine and abundant rain

The Cinnamon production process begins with the harvesting of the bark of the Cinnamon tree. The bark of the Cinnamon tree is harvested twice a year, one year after pruning, and when the trees are three years old. Cinnamon is harvested immediately after each of the two monsoons, South-West and North-East when the rain soaked bark can be easily stripped from the trees.
However the true art of the Cinnamon production process is the result of skill and technique unique to the Cinnamon peelers of Sri Lanka. Cinnamon peeling is a highly skilled technique which has been handed down from generation to generation in Sri Lanka.

In the first stage of peeling process the “flush” of tender shoots is cut down and covered in Hessian sacking in the peeling shed and let to ferment lightly. On the next day commences the most difficult part of the cinnamon production process. The peelers squat on the floor and strip off the leaves and twigs, scrapping the rough outer bark from the twigs. The inner bark is then rubbed and beaten down thoroughly to break up and homogenize the tissue so as to free the bark from the twigs. Next the peelers marks off two parallel slits on the stick with a small curved knife and with the precision of a surgeon eases the bark free in one piece without fragmenting the bark.

The bark is then carefully packed in layers, one inside the other, in several ply’s, telescoped and overlapped, end to end, to produced long rolled and layered “quills”. After a process of indoor drying on hammocks and outdoor drying in filtered sunlight for one or two days, the cinnamon is dried to a crackling papery texture processing the true cinnamon colour.

The bark is then trimmed precisely to the 42 inch quills specified by the world cinnamon market. Quills are packed in 45kg bails and classified into 10 grades according to diameter, and the number of 42 inch quills to a pound. Chips referred to as “quillings” and “featherings” are sold as medium quality cinnamon for grinding into cinnamon powder or for the distillation of oil.