Herb and Spice of the Week – Anise

May 15, 2014 at 5:44 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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Anise

Anise

Anise /ˈænɪs/, Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor has similarities with some other spices, such as star anise, fennel, and liquorice.

 

 

 
Anise is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 1 m (3 ft) or more tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 1–5 cm (⅜-2 in.) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm in (⅛ in.) in diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3–6 mm (⅛-¼ in.) long, usually called “aniseed”.

Anise is a food plant for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths), including the lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.

 

 

 
Anise plants grow best in light, fertile, well drained soil. The seeds should be planted as soon as the ground warms up in spring. Because the plants have a taproot, they do not transplant well after being established, so they should be started either in their final location or transplanted while the seedlings are still small.

 

 

 

Anise fruits

Anise fruits

Western cuisines have long used anise to flavor some dishes, drinks, and candies, and the word is used for both the species of herb and its licorice-like flavor. The most powerful flavor component of the essential oil of anise, anethole, is found in both anise and an unrelated spice called star anise (Illicium verum) widely used in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes. Star anise is considerably less expensive to produce, and has gradually displaced Pimpinella anisum in Western markets. While formerly produced in larger quantities, by 1999 world production of the essential oil of anise was only 8 tonnes, compared to 400 tonnes from star anise.

 

 

 
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including the black jelly bean, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Netherland muisjes, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India..

The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with aniseseed, called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. This tradition of serving cake at the end of festivities is the basis for the tradition of serving cake at weddings.

 

 

 
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak, Colombian aguardiente, French spirits absinthe, anisette and pastis, Greek ouzo, Bulgarian mastika, Macedonian Мастика, German Jägermeister, Italian sambuca, Dutch Brokmöpke, Portuguese, Peruvian and Spanish anísado, Mexican Xtabentún and Turkish rakı. In these liquors, it is clear, but on addition of water becomes cloudy, a phenomenon known as the ouzo effect. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgil’s in the United States.

 

 

 

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