Who, how, where did it grow?

Wild Ceylon Cinnamon – kaneel

Flavour

Don’t expect a cinnamon explosion in your mouth with this cinnamon. It is a more subtle experience. First a sweetness, next a fresh, almost citrus hint, and then comes that recognizable cinnamon flavour, with an earthy taste to wrap it up.

What Variety from Where

Cinnamon is the dried bark of a tree. This cinnamon comes from the Ceylon cinnamon tree which is originated in Sri Lanka – the colonial name of Sri Lanka was Ceylon. The tree still mainly grows there. Ceylon cinnamon is often called ‘true cinnamon’ opposed to another kind of cinnamon called Cassia.  Both kinds of cinnamon have the distinguished cinnamon flavour but are different trees. Ceylon cinnamon is called ‘true cinnamon’ because for centuries it was considered as the real and more delicate kind, therefore more ‘suited for the rich’ and more expensive.

Though most cinnamon estates in Sri Lanka are in the South, this cinnamon is from the heart of the island and is not grown on a plantation and is therefore known as ‘wild’. It is collected from individual trees that grow on the lands of small-scale tea or coffee farmers. Cinnamon trees can grow pretty big and are often cut down for practical reasons and are ditched or sold for little value as many farmers themselves do not have the knowledge or the facilities to dry the cinnamon.

Nihal and Remon founders of Ekoland

By Whom and How

Ekoland is set up by father and son: Nihal and Remon. Remon’s mother is Dutch and they spent a few years in the Netherlands, however, they decided to return to Nihal’s family land in Sri Lanka to start their dream to develop an ethical community project. They set up an Eco Lodge working together with many locals. Their second step is to increase the value of local products of the community in a sustainable way by providing drying facilities, sharing knowledge and looking for new markets.

Ekoland buys the cinnamon trees for a good price, adding to the income of the farmer. They will ensure the tree is cut in a manner that ensures it will grow back. The cinnamon is dried under their supervision to ensure a high quality, but they involve people from the community as much as possible to teach them how to dry the cinnamon themselves. When they are able to do so, they can add a lot of value to their own cinnamon trees.

The branches of the wild trees can fully develop, contrary to cinnamon trees on plantations where the bark of young branches is used. This increases the sweetness and earthiness in the cinnamon. However, it does make it impossible to make the curled up cinnamon pipes, which you have undoubtedly encountered in your supermarket, and therefore this cinnamon comes in thicker pieces.

Sustainability

There is no need to use pesticides to produce this cinnamon as these trees and its bark are resilient. The danger is, however, that farmers will use pesticides for their other crops, such as tea, coffee, and other spices, which will contaminate the cinnamon tree. In these areas there are mainly small-scale farmers with no tradition of using pesticides. Yet, the government of Sri Lanka has lifted the ban on the use of roundups (chemical weed killers). This is worrying and Ekoland will keep a close watch on the farmers to see if they use it and will provide sustainable alternative methods. In case of doubt, we will start testing the cinnamon on the presence of these roundups to ensure that the cinnamon is completely pesticide free to guarantee the high quality of the product.


So now you know everything about the cinnamon, scroll down for more on the turmeric. To see delicious recipes can you make with them click here.


As the first pioneers who tried the spices of The Good Spice it would be really nice if you could share your experience.

Lakadong Turmeric – kurkuma

Flavour

It starts with a floral flavour, followed by a sharp citrus, and then an earthiness. Opposed to many other varieties of turmeric the flavour is not bitter. This is a result of its high curcumin percentage of 8% (average is 3%). Curcumin is the substance that gives turmeric its bright colour and sharp fresh taste. Besides its culinary use, there are reports that curcumin has multiple qualities that may strengthen our immune system. A reason why the world market demand has significantly grown since the spread of the coronavirus.

What Variety from Where

Turmeric is a root or rhizome spice of a one-year plant. This plant will grow up to around 80 cm with big green leaves. The Jaintia Hills in North-East India is unique for the Lakadong turmeric. It is the only turmeric known with more than 6% of curcumin. Many have tried to grow this variety elsewhere but always failed.  

Loitang

By Whom and How

Our turmeric is produced by a proud female farmer and community leader, Loitang, who works with the entrepreneur Remdor. She has around two acres of land and has been growing the lakadong variety already for thirty years and helps other women in her community to do the same.

Turmeric is harvested in January when the plants dry out. The roots are cut and dried in the sun for around eight days. The women in this community harvest each of their lands together to be most efficient. I had the chance to help a bit myself last January (see movie).

Not that easy – Iona’s contribution to the turmeric harvest

Sustainability

In this area there are only small-scale farmers, who grow spice sfor personal use or for the local market. They use traditional agricultural methods that they have been using for ages. They also believe that if you use pesticides you will curse the land for you children. However, the demand for (fresh) Lakadong is growing especially for the pharmaceutic industry to distillate the curcumin. This will increase the pressure for a higher and cheaper yield, which pesticides can provide on the short term. The Good Spice stimulates the community of Loitang to avoid using harmful pesticides by giving a high price for their organic product. Whilst at the same time giving them access to knowledge and finance to increase their production in a sustainable way. In addition, The Good Spice will perform independent lab tests to rule out any traces of pesticides.   

In the 1980s coal mining became a booming business in the Jaintia Hills. However, The National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India has banned coal mining in the area in 2014, because of the heavy pollution of water sources and dangerous working conditions. While this ban will not go overnight and is difficult to control, the number of coal mines has decreased, creating a need for a new source of income. To provide an economic pull-factor, the government wants to stimulate the development of Lakadong production by distributing Lakadong rhizomes at low cost and setting up a modern post-harvest centre in which rhizomes can be dried using solar energy. However, this centre is not operational yet as there is not enough market for this high-quality organic product. The Good Spice and the social enterprise Jeev Anksh have combined forces to create this market. Hopefully, on the long-term this contributes to the rise of an alternative booming business, replacing the polluting coal mining industry and creating positive alternatives for the previous miners.