The less intense, fruity cousin. Popular in Asian cuisine, this pretty, star-shaped spice deserves it’s kitchen space in many countries.
Star anise isn’t really anise. It’s a medium-sized fruit from an evergreen tree in the magnolia family. It is milder, and a more mellow aromatic anise flavor than anise seed, which is much stronger, and more pungent. It’s popular in a lot of Asian spice blends and stocks.
Star anise contains anethole, the essential oil that gives off that licorice,taste. The flavor is warm, floral, and slightly sweet.
Native to Northeast Vietnam and Southwest China, the spice can be grown anywhere other than Japan, whose sub-species is toxic.
Star anise is an ancient spice, widely distributed as part of the global spice trade. It arrived in Europe during the 17th century. There, the oil was extracted by a steam process, and used for candies, syrups, sweet drinks, and to temper the taste of medicines.
90% of the crop today isn’t used culinarily. It’s a key ingredient in the manufacture of Tamiflu.
Consume only the seeds from China/Vietnam, or regions OTHER THAN Japan.
The Japanese star anise is toxic. It can be burned, for incense, but not taken internally.
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