Processing accounts for about 60% of the cost of production of cinnamon. This is because the
peeling of bark from the stems is labour intensive and is usually done by hand, by skilled peelers.
The quality of cinnamon depends on how well the bark is removed from the stems. The larger
pieces or quills can be sold for more than the smaller broken pieces. The Agricultural
Engineering University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka has developed a small mechanised machine for
removing the bark from cinnamon stems.
Drying is also an important stage of the processing of cinnamon. It contributes to the quality of
the final product.
• Remove the tender stems (with diameters less than 1.2cm) and use these for mulching.
• Stems with diameters of more than 5cm are not used to prepare cinnamon bark. Remove
these and use for oil distillation.
• Remove the soft outer bark using a fine rounded rasp knife.
• Rub the stripped stem with a brass rod to loosen the inner bark. It is important to use a
brass rod so that the bark does not become discoloured.
• Make cuts around the stem at 30cm intervals using a small pointed knife. The knife
blade should be stainless steel or brass to prevent staining the bark.
• Make long cuts along the length of the stem, so that the bark can be carefully eased off
the stem. Use the pointed knife and the rubbing rod to help ease off the bark.
• The pieces of removed bark are known as quills. Place these curled quills inside one
another to make long compound quills (up to 1m long). Use the best whole quills on the
outside and fill in the centre with broken pieces of bark.
The compound quills are placed on coir rope racks and dried in the shade to prevent warping.
After four or five days of drying, the quills are rolled on a board to tighten the filling and then
placed in subdued sunlight for further drying.
In humid climates or during the rainy season it will be necessary to use a mechanical dryer to
complete the drying process. There are a range of dryers available to suit different situations
(electrical, gas fired, biomass fuelled). See the Practical Action Technical Brief on drying for
The quality of cinnamon is judged by the thickness of the bark, the appearance (broken or entire
quills) and the aroma and flavour. The Sri Lankan grading system divides the cinnamon quills into
four main groups according to diameter:
6. Leaf oil
7. Bark oil
Pieces of bark less than 106mm long
Inner bark of twigs and twisted shoots
Trimmings of quills, outer and inner bark that
cant be separated
Less than 6mm diameter
Less than 16mm diameter
Less than 19mm diameter
Less than 32mm diameter