Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Anise is a member of the parsley, carrot and fennel family which is used for its seeds (usually called aniseed) and leaves.
Anise’s flavour is distinctive, warm and liquorice-like. The leaves have a mild peppery note while the seeds’ flavour is more subtle than fennel and star anise.
Anise has a warm, sweet, fruity bouquet.
Anise is used to flavour both sweet and savoury dishes in Europe, India and the Middle East. It is delicious in breads, cakes, fruit salad, stews (particularly pork and fish stews), confectionery (aniseed lollies) and alcoholic beverages. Anise loves figs, carrots, chestnuts, almonds, fish and pork and marries with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, garlic, nutmeg and pepper.
Anise plants are best grown from seed in well-limed soil and in a sunny position. The plant grows to 30-50cm and has feathery leaves and upright stems. The fruit are harvested just before they ripen and left to dry. The seeds are threshed from the flower heads and then allowed to dry further.
Anise was originally grown in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean however it is now used widely throughout the world. Romans used it in cakes that were eaten at the end of meals to assist digestion. Builders of steam trains in Britain used capsules of anise oil in white metal plain bearings so that the distinctive scent would warn them when they overheated.
Anise has been used throughout history after meals to assist digestion and also freshen the breath. It is used in cough mixtures and antiseptics. Anise is also been known to stimulate the milk supply of nursing mothers whilst also reducing colic in their babies.
Facts about Anise
Plant anise near coriander. It’s said that this co-planting helps anise germinate more quickly, grow better and improve the seed formation of both plants.
It’s been said that aniseed works better than cheese in mousetraps.
Anise is put onto fishing lures to attract fish.