Cinnamon Wood - Finally got it

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Smurfsky

Newbie
Original poster
Mar 20, 2023
26
21
It's been a 2 year project of mine to try and bring cinnamon wood into the United States to use as a smoking wood. Today, I finally got a sample and did a preliminary test.

What is Cinnamon Wood? Cinnamon, in case you didn't know, is just bark scraped off of cinnamon trees. It's then dried and ground up into cinnamon powder, or shortened into cinnamon sticks. When cinnamon is harvested (i.e. when the bark is scraped off the wood), the wood is left over as a byproduct of the cinnamon farming process.
My suspicion was that cinnamon wood would burn with a cinnamon scent, since the bark is in such close contact with the wood during the tree's lifetime. The idea was to get cinnamon wood, and use it for things like cinnamon smoked chipotle wings, cinnamon smoked ribs...the list goes on.

The Research: There is VERY little written about cinnamon wood, making it difficult to know whether or not it'd be a good smoking wood. There are a couple (literally...only two) comments I could find about people smoking with cinnamon wood, and it had mixed reviews. But, I knew it was a hardwood, so I had to find out more.
I looked into it further and found a paper (link to it...if you're interested: LINK) where some research was done into using the wood as a fuel for electricity. In the paper, the author discusses that some people use it for cooking and firewood. I messaged him, and he told me that the wood burns with a distinct cinnamon scent, so I knew I had to try and get some.
The same thing was said by two different cinnamon farmers I found in Sri Lanka this year. Both said people cook with it, and that pizza restaurants throughout Sri Lanka use it and the restaurants smell like cinnamon when it's used as the primary wood fuel source for the ovens. Game on.

Ceylon vs. Saigon Cinnamon: There are two main different kinds of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and Saigon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is the sweet cinnamon that's more expensive. This grows in India and Sri Lanka. Saigon is a bit spicier, but way more common. This grows in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and India (and probably a couple other places). I exclusively was looking for Ceylon cinnamon, figuring it would give off a sweeter smoke if the cinnamon is more sweet.

TESTING THE CINNAMON WOOD: I finally got a sample today of some very tiny pieces of cinnamon wood. Here's how it went:
Unboxing: Opening the box, the cinnamon wood had almost no smell to it. It's honestly just like sugar maple, but there's practically zero cinnamon scent. When you cut it into smaller pieces using a saw, there's a VERY faint cinnamon scent, but not as much as I had hoped.
Burning: If the wood has a big cinnamon scent, this is when I expected to smell it. But, again, not near as much as I had hoped. We lit it and allowed it to smolder, but the wood has almost no cinnamon scent at all. It's similar to sugar maple, or ash wood, in its scent. Not really promising when it comes to infusing foods with a cinnamon flavor at all.

Overall it's been a pretty big disappointment SO FAR. We plan to use it on a longer smoke with the limited supply we have, to see if it can infuse cinnamon flavored smoke into some chicken wings. If it doesn't do that, I imagine it'll just be a very standard wood similar to maple or oak, but not worth trying to bring it here into the US as a smoking wood. We'll update this once we try it.

Have any of you used cinnamon wood? Any suggestions about what we might be doing wrong, or how we should use our limited supply?

Do any of you have a "white whale" of a wood you've always wanted to try smoking with?
 

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It's been a 2 year project of mine to try and bring cinnamon wood into the United States to use as a smoking wood. Today, I finally got a sample and did a preliminary test.

What is Cinnamon Wood? Cinnamon, in case you didn't know, is just bark scraped off of cinnamon trees. It's then dried and ground up into cinnamon powder, or shortened into cinnamon sticks. When cinnamon is harvested (i.e. when the bark is scraped off the wood), the wood is left over as a byproduct of the cinnamon farming process.
My suspicion was that cinnamon wood would burn with a cinnamon scent, since the bark is in such close contact with the wood during the tree's lifetime. The idea was to get cinnamon wood, and use it for things like cinnamon smoked chipotle wings, cinnamon smoked ribs...the list goes on.

The Research: There is VERY little written about cinnamon wood, making it difficult to know whether or not it'd be a good smoking wood. There are a couple (literally...only two) comments I could find about people smoking with cinnamon wood, and it had mixed reviews. But, I knew it was a hardwood, so I had to find out more.
I looked into it further and found a paper (link to it...if you're interested: LINK) where some research was done into using the wood as a fuel for electricity. In the paper, the author discusses that some people use it for cooking and firewood. I messaged him, and he told me that the wood burns with a distinct cinnamon scent, so I knew I had to try and get some.
The same thing was said by two different cinnamon farmers I found in Sri Lanka this year. Both said people cook with it, and that pizza restaurants throughout Sri Lanka use it and the restaurants smell like cinnamon when it's used as the primary wood fuel source for the ovens. Game on.

Ceylon vs. Saigon Cinnamon: There are two main different kinds of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and Saigon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is the sweet cinnamon that's more expensive. This grows in India and Sri Lanka. Saigon is a bit spicier, but way more common. This grows in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and India (and probably a couple other places). I exclusively was looking for Ceylon cinnamon, figuring it would give off a sweeter smoke if the cinnamon is more sweet.

TESTING THE CINNAMON WOOD: I finally got a sample today of some very tiny pieces of cinnamon wood. Here's how it went:
Unboxing: Opening the box, the cinnamon wood had almost no smell to it. It's honestly just like sugar maple, but there's practically zero cinnamon scent. When you cut it into smaller pieces using a saw, there's a VERY faint cinnamon scent, but not as much as I had hoped.
Burning: If the wood has a big cinnamon scent, this is when I expected to smell it. But, again, not near as much as I had hoped. We lit it and allowed it to smolder, but the wood has almost no cinnamon scent at all. It's similar to sugar maple, or ash wood, in its scent. Not really promising when it comes to infusing foods with a cinnamon flavor at all.

Overall it's been a pretty big disappointment SO FAR. We plan to use it on a longer smoke with the limited supply we have, to see if it can infuse cinnamon flavored smoke into some chicken wings. If it doesn't do that, I imagine it'll just be a very standard wood similar to maple or oak, but not worth trying to bring it here into the US as a smoking wood. We'll update this once we try it.

Have any of you used cinnamon wood? Any suggestions about what we might be doing wrong, or how we should use our limited supply?

Do any of you have a "white whale" of a wood you've always wanted to try smoking with?
Hi there and welcome!

Cool project. Let's hope it gives a good flavor.

I would think smoking something like brined boneless skinless chicken breast would give you an idea of what kind of flavor it may impart.

I personally don't know how to relate smoke smell to smoke flavor but I can for sure taste the differences in smoke flavors. So the proof will be in the cooking :)
 
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Great write up, sorry it did not have the scent you were hoping for. I think ( and have no way to justify ) that if
has any scent at all you would have smelt it when you open up the container it came in. Like cherry chunks have a smell when you open up the bag they come in.

Keep testing, and If it does have some scent on a longer smoke that would be great. I could see it being a great wood for lots of foods. Especially desserts that I smoke a lot of

Keep trying

David
 
Great write up, sorry it did not have the scent you were hoping for. I think ( and have no way to justify ) that if
has any scent at all you would have smelt it when you open up the container it came in. Like cherry chunks have a smell when you open up the bag they come in.

Keep testing, and If it does have some scent on a longer smoke that would be great. I could see it being a great wood for lots of foods. Especially desserts that I smoke a lot of

Keep trying

David
Thank you for the encouragement!

I'm thinking the same, that it still has some potential for longer duration smokes. Could be interesting, for example, with cold-smoked cheesecake or something like that. Lots of ideas, just need to test more.

I will keep the thread updated once we test!
 
Very cool project, and I applaud your perseverance in pulling it off!
If you don't get the cinnamon notes you want from the wood alone, toss a cinnamon stick on the coals and see what that does. It still counts as smoke wood, to my way of thinking.

There is an interesting review of the chemistry of cinnamon here: Cinnamon. It has a table showing concentrations of some of the flavor components in the leaves, bark, root, buds, fruit and flowers, but doesn't mention the wood.
 
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Very cool project, and I applaud your perseverance in pulling it off!
If you don't get the cinnamon notes you want from the wood alone, toss a cinnamon stick on the coals and see what that does. It still counts as smoke wood, to my way of thinking.

There is an interesting review of the chemistry of cinnamon here: Cinnamon. It has a table showing concentrations of some of the flavor components in the leaves, bark, root, buds, fruit and flowers, but doesn't mention the wood.
This is the type of stuff I nerd out on. There are, without a doubt, a ton of smoking woods that people haven’t used that could create some extremely unique recipes. Just getting them here is the issue but I believe it’s something that hasn’t been explored enough.
 
Never would have thought of cinnamon wood. That is very intriguing.
I think so too! Hoping it gives off a cinnamon flavor but we’ll be exploring a ton of other woods too if this one doesn’t work out.

I’ll make sure to keep SMF updated on the quest.
 
Wow, points for creativity and perseverance.

One thing is for certain there is no shortage of ideas on this forum.

I am interested in how the smoke comes out. Good luck!
 
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Interesting concept and read. I’m curious, what is the moisture content of the wood? If it’s exceptionally dry perhaps greener wood might have a stronger cinnamon scent?
 
Try pimenta (allspice) wood for smoking. Get pure chips not a mix. You can also use all the branches twigs everything. Sometime we take green pimenta leaves lay them on the grill and put chicken on top. Both the aroma and the flavor transfer well .
I bribe a couple tree trimmers to bring it to me whenever they cut some.
 
Try pimenta (allspice) wood for smoking. Get pure chips not a mix. You can also use all the branches twigs everything. Sometime we take green pimenta leaves lay them on the grill and put chicken on top. Both the aroma and the flavor transfer well .
I bribe a couple tree trimmers to bring it to me whenever they cut some.
Where are you sourcing that? Legit jerk wood.
 
Interesting concept and read. I’m curious, what is the moisture content of the wood? If it’s exceptionally dry perhaps greener wood might have a stronger cinnamon scent?
Great question. When cinnamon spice is harvested, it requires taking off the inner and outer bark of the wood. Once this is peeled off, it really speeds up the drying process. So this stuff is pretty damn close to bone dry. Plus, in such a small size (like the photos) it doesn't hold onto moisture very long.

Cinnamon is harvested 2x per year, and most of the new growth that's harvested is pretty small-diameter wood. Like about 1-3 inches in diameter. This just means it's not going to stay green for very long, unfortunately
 
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Try pimenta (allspice) wood for smoking. Get pure chips not a mix. You can also use all the branches twigs everything. Sometime we take green pimenta leaves lay them on the grill and put chicken on top. Both the aroma and the flavor transfer well .
I bribe a couple tree trimmers to bring it to me whenever they cut some.
We've tried this, it's awesome. The only wood to use for jerk chicken!
 
It's been a 2 year project of mine to try and bring cinnamon wood into the United States to use as a smoking wood. Today, I finally got a sample and did a preliminary test.

What is Cinnamon Wood? Cinnamon, in case you didn't know, is just bark scraped off of cinnamon trees. It's then dried and ground up into cinnamon powder, or shortened into cinnamon sticks. When cinnamon is harvested (i.e. when the bark is scraped off the wood), the wood is left over as a byproduct of the cinnamon farming process.
My suspicion was that cinnamon wood would burn with a cinnamon scent, since the bark is in such close contact with the wood during the tree's lifetime. The idea was to get cinnamon wood, and use it for things like cinnamon smoked chipotle wings, cinnamon smoked ribs...the list goes on.

The Research: There is VERY little written about cinnamon wood, making it difficult to know whether or not it'd be a good smoking wood. There are a couple (literally...only two) comments I could find about people smoking with cinnamon wood, and it had mixed reviews. But, I knew it was a hardwood, so I had to find out more.
I looked into it further and found a paper (link to it...if you're interested: LINK) where some research was done into using the wood as a fuel for electricity. In the paper, the author discusses that some people use it for cooking and firewood. I messaged him, and he told me that the wood burns with a distinct cinnamon scent, so I knew I had to try and get some.
The same thing was said by two different cinnamon farmers I found in Sri Lanka this year. Both said people cook with it, and that pizza restaurants throughout Sri Lanka use it and the restaurants smell like cinnamon when it's used as the primary wood fuel source for the ovens. Game on.

Ceylon vs. Saigon Cinnamon: There are two main different kinds of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and Saigon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is the sweet cinnamon that's more expensive. This grows in India and Sri Lanka. Saigon is a bit spicier, but way more common. This grows in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and India (and probably a couple other places). I exclusively was looking for Ceylon cinnamon, figuring it would give off a sweeter smoke if the cinnamon is more sweet.

TESTING THE CINNAMON WOOD: I finally got a sample today of some very tiny pieces of cinnamon wood. Here's how it went:
Unboxing: Opening the box, the cinnamon wood had almost no smell to it. It's honestly just like sugar maple, but there's practically zero cinnamon scent. When you cut it into smaller pieces using a saw, there's a VERY faint cinnamon scent, but not as much as I had hoped.
Burning: If the wood has a big cinnamon scent, this is when I expected to smell it. But, again, not near as much as I had hoped. We lit it and allowed it to smolder, but the wood has almost no cinnamon scent at all. It's similar to sugar maple, or ash wood, in its scent. Not really promising when it comes to infusing foods with a cinnamon flavor at all.

Overall it's been a pretty big disappointment SO FAR. We plan to use it on a longer smoke with the limited supply we have, to see if it can infuse cinnamon flavored smoke into some chicken wings. If it doesn't do that, I imagine it'll just be a very standard wood similar to maple or oak, but not worth trying to bring it here into the US as a smoking wood. We'll update this once we try it.

Have any of you used cinnamon wood? Any suggestions about what we might be doing wrong, or how we should use our limited supply?

Do any of you have a "white whale" of a wood you've always wanted to try smoking with?
Hello! I came across your post while looking through forums on how to smoke with cinnamon wood. I'm currently based in Sri Lanka and I'm getting some dried cinnamon wood chips done so I can test it out for smoking meats. I've been in the spice industry for a while now and just started thinking about using cinnamon wood to smoke meat.

From my experiences and research here, Ceylon cinnamon comes from the outer bark of the cinnamon tree, which is rolled into quills. Anything that would be used as chips or chunks for smoking would be from the dried inner bark.

I have on one occasion used cinnamon wood while camping on the beach and it gave the most amazing smoky, sweet flavour to our beef stew. But I can't say that it had a recognisably cinnamon taste.

It may be good to experiment with a blend of cinnamon chips and some crushed quills to give it a cinnamon flavour.

Another thing you have to consider is the fact that cinnamon outer bark (which the quills are made from) has a natural compound which is a bit numbing when consumed in larger quantities. Like cloves or cardamom.

Hit me up on private message if you want to discuss more or are interested in how my upcoming trials with cinnamon chips turn out.

Cheers!
 
Hit me up on private message if you want to discuss more or are interested in how my upcoming trials with cinnamon chips turn out.

I know you said private message, but just wondering . You said you used the wood in a camp fire cook. But even though it was a very nice smoke
and helped with your stew, it was not a cinnamon taste. I am glad you mentioned a numbing sensation if too much is used I use Ceylon cinnamon in a lot of my cooking and love it.

So is the inner wood away from the bark not have any smell, taste at all of cinnamon.
Like a bag of cherry wood chips has a distinct smell to cherry. Just wondering out load.

Would not the quills as you call them not be too powerful to add to a wood burning process. I am very interested in your findings as I can see a light cinnamon come in very handy for desserts that i like to smoke and maybe some meats also.

Like I said just wondering out loud , cause I love the smell and taste of cinnamon, but too much can also be very bitter.

David
 
Interesting read, I geek out on this kind of stuff.
Has me wondering tho, How much of a cinnamon taste is expected? Or is it just a different taste? I have the feeling you won't really get a cinnamon taste rather a different taste. I don't think that smoked meat tastes like product of the tree, I mean cherry wood doesn't produce a cherry flavor and apple doesn't produce an apple flavor. Yeah some wood produces a slightly sweeter and lighter smoke taste than others.

That being said cinnamon isn't really ths same since cinnamon is produced from the bark of the tree.
Wonder if instead of using the byproduct of cinnamon production and use the wood with the bark still intact would produce something closer to what you're looking for.
 
Wonder if instead of using the byproduct of cinnamon production and use the wood with the bark still intact would produce something closer to what you're looking for.

I like what you are saying Joe, and I thought that also about the flavour profile is really not that prominent of each species , and I always relate back to cherry, the wood smells good . But I never really taste cherry in my meals but love the red hint to the smoked foods.

I might just play with cinnamon powder in my rubs instead , as I can go as light or as heavy as I need per food smoked.

David
 
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