Anise is a member of the Umbelliferae family which also includes fennel, caraway, coriander and dill, to name a few. A seed-like fruit, anise delivers a warm, sweet, licorice-like flavor to sweet and savory dishes alike.
Botanical name: Pimpinella anisum L.
Anise seed's feathery leaves and slender, round, grooved stems reveal that it's a member of the parsley family. Native to Asia Minor and Egypt, the graceful Pimpinella anisum branches to a height of about 18 inches. The crescent-shaped seeds of the plant are harvested in late summer, about a month after the yellowish-white anise flowers appear. It takes about 100,000 of these "seeds" (actually greenish-gray, oblong fruits) to yield one pound. The climate in which anise is grown impacts the plant's yield and quality. It requires a long, warm, frost-free growing season of at least 120 days, and thrives in poor, dry soil. Although the seed has an aroma and flavor reminiscent of licorice, the two are completely unrelated. The dry, ripe fruits (seeds) should be harvested between July and September.While the taste of anise is similar to licorice (with minty, fruity, fennel-like notes), it's not related to the herb licorice. (Nor is it related to star anise, which is often relied upon for a similar flavor in Far East cuisines.) That distinctly licorice flavor is the result of the plant's high anethole content, a white, crystalline substance. When this anethole solidifies on the outside of the seeds (usually after it's been chilled), it sometimes causes anise to sparkle. Anise was cultivated in ancient Egypt and is often mentioned in the Bible (as a payment for tithe) and in the works of many Greek and Roman authors--like the herbalist Pliny, who recommended chewing the seed as a morning breath freshener. Romans enjoyed anise in an aromatic spice cake called mustaceus. Baked in bay leaves, mustaceus was eaten to aid digestion after feasts and rich meals. In 1305, King Edward I used taxes and tolls on anise seed to help pay for repairs to London Bridge, and in 1480, King Edward IV reportedly used anise to perfume his personal linens. A century later, anise was used as mousetrap bait. If lore holds true for this spice, anise helps maintain a youthful appearance and prevents nightmares if tucked near the bed!
Anise seed is used extensively to flavor liquors, cookies, cakes, fruit dishes, coleslaw, rye bread, apple pie and meats. It also makes a wonderful addition to teas. The warm, sweet flavor of anise is enjoyed in a variety of ethnic cuisines, including those of the Middle East, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Around the world, it's used in liquors and cordials--such as Turkish raki, Latin American aguardiente ("firewater"), Greek ouzo, Spanish ojen, and French anisette. (You might try a simple bedtime toddy of warm milk with anise.) In the kitchen, anise seed flavors cakes, cookies, cheeses, fruit pies and salads, rye breads, meat dishes, soups, dressings, stews, and fish sauces. Try it in cottage cheese, baked apples, coleslaw, cream cheese, pickles, and egg dishes. It's often a component in blends for curry and hoisin, and you'll find it in German springerle, Italian biscotti, licorice candies, and Italian sausage and pepperoni.
All herbs and spices are best quality: Non-Irradiated, USDA Certified Organic, Organic by QAI.
Depending on availability, your order will either be by Frontier, Organic Connections or Starwest Botanicals.
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