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anise seeds

 

Synonym: aniseed
botanical name: Pimpinella anisum


Anis

 

Anise is one of the oldest spices; it was already mentioned in ancient writings around 1500 b.c. Its original home is presumed to be the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean area. Anise was not introduced to Central Europe until the 8th century a.d.

 

Anise is grown today in many parts of Europe, Asia and North America, and on a large scale in countries with a warm, dry climate, such as Spain, Italy and France. For your personal needs you can grow anise in your own garden.

 

Availability

Aniseed is harvested in August/September. The plants are mown or pulled from the earth and dried. The ripe seeds are then threshed or fall out of the umbels by themselves.

Aniseed is sold year round, either whole or ground.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

Like dill, caraway and fennel, anise belongs to the family of the Umbelliferae. The plant reaches 20-50 cm in height and the fruits (seeds) form in the umbels. The fruits actually consist of two parts and are also known as schizocarps. The seeds are 3-6 mm long, half-moon-shaped to oval, flat and finely ribbed. The colour may vary between yellow-green and grey-green.

 

It is chiefly the aniseeds that are used as a spice, but the young leaves are also good as a seasoning. The fresh aroma of anise is fruity and sweet and resembles that of liquorice. The leaves also have a mildly peppery character.

 

Ingredients

Anise contains 1.5-6% essential oil, the chief component of which is anethole.

 

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

It is best to buy whole aniseed and not to grind it until you need it, because the aroma evaporates quickly. The seeds should be stored airtight in a dry, dark place; they will then remain aromatic for about 2 years.

 

Presumed effect on health

Anise is generally considered to be an aid to health, an appetite stimulant and a digestive. It is used above all for respiratory inflammation. To this end, anise infusions or extracts are drunk, or salves or oil containing anise are used as liniments or for inhalation.

 

In folk medicine, an aphrodisiac effect is attributed to anis and anisette. They are also supposed to stimulate the formation of breast milk in women following pregnancy.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

The spice is sold whole, crushed or ground. We use anise above all to flavour baked goods such as cakes, cookies and bread. Especially in Christmas baking it is used to make gingerbread (Lebkuchen) and cookies. Fruit salads, candies, preserved fruit and sweet baked puddings are often flavoured with the seeds. Anise goes well with apples, nuts, figs and sweet chestnuts. Even 'salty' dishes can be enhanced with anise if it is used sparingly, e.g. cooked fish, seafood, and vegetable dishes such as cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin and red cabbage. Similarly, anise is good with cooked potatoes and salads.

 

In India and the Near East anise serves to flavour hearty dishes with vegetables, lentils and fish curries. To intensify the aroma, the seeds are roasted or fried in oil.

 

Anise is used industrially to make spirits, for instance French pastis (e.g. Pernod), Greek ouzo, Turkish raki or German anisette. In addition, essential oil and essence of anise are extracted through distillation. The oil is used in the cosmetic industry for oral care products, perfumes and creams.

 

Seasoning tip

It is popular to combine anise with coriander, chervil, caraway, cardamom, garlic and fennel. It also harmonises with cloves, pepper, nutmeg, poppy seed, allspice, star anise and cinnamon.

 

Miscellaneous

By the way, pigeon breeders use anise oil to lure the pigeons into the loft.

 

 

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