The star-shaped spice called star anise is one of the widely used herbs around the world. Along with its flavor, this spice is also appreciated because of its distinctive looks. Star anise is produced from the illicium verum plant’s fruit. This evergreen shrub is from southwest China. It is the native plant there as its production began from that region.
Star anise has been used for culinary reasons for many years now. However, its use for medical reasons is also appreciated by everyone around. This spice s rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. Besides, this herb also fights diabetes and anti-aging properties in humans. Therefore, people often drink star anise tea or use few drops of its oil to benefit. Moreover, star anise has a fascinating flavor and aroma, which is another reason behind the fame of this spice.
What does Star Anise Look Like?
The look of the star anise is a little different from the other spices. Unlike other spices, which often have round, woody, or seed-like shapes, the star anise is different. It has a unique star-like structure. The pointed corners of this spice form star. That’s why it is called star anise. Each spice contains around 6 to 8 points. The points are equipped with small seeds. The pointed corners and overall spice are woody. It is rough, tough, and has a woody structure like the actual anise. While the points of this spice have a boat shape and contain 1 seed each. The color of this spice is reddish-brown.
Where does Star Anise Come From?
Highly aromatic star anise comes from the illicium verum plant. The plant contains numerous leaves of different sizes. Their sizes vary between 5 cm to 15 cm in length and 1.5 cm to 5 cm in width. Besides, it also contains flowers which have dark red to pink color. The fruits on this plant have a capsule-like structure with a star shape. While regionally, star anise is grown in different regions, including Indo-China, Japan, Vietnam, China, etc.
How is Star Anise Made?
For growing star anise, you must begin the process by planting seeds. You can also grow the plant through the cutting process. You can also grow it in the pods. Once you plant the seeds, water them, and take good care. It may take around 6 years for the plant to produce fruits. So, be patient with it. Once the fruits grow, they are picked when they are still green and unripped. Afterward, they are put under the sun to dry. During the drying process, these fruits change their color and become reddish-brown. Then, you should remove the seeds and store the star anise.
What Does Star Anise Taste Like?
Star anise has a very distinct taste. It is very strong and gives a combined flavor of spicy, warm, and sweet flavor. It resembles clove, fennel seeds, anise seeds, and licorice in taste. Its unique taste makes it suitable for both culinary and sweet dishes.
How is Star Anise Used in Cooking?
How you use anise depends on its type, i.e., ground and whole star anise. While using the whole form, you should simmer in the sauces, soups, marinades, etc. But make sure to remove the pods before serving. That’s because the pods are hard and do not soften even after being cooked. However, if you are using the ground form, then you can add it with other spices like paprika, etc., in the recipe.
What Types of Cuisines Use Star Anise?
Star anise is used in a lot of cuisines. Especially in Chinese and Indian cuisines, this spice is used in almost all cuisines. For example, you can add it to soups, meat like port and lamb, etc. While people also add it in gingerbread, pumpkin pie, and even drinks like chai, etc.
What is a Star Anise Substitute?
For replacing star anise, you can add few other ingredients to your recipe. These ingredients will give almost the same flavor as star anise. These ingredients are Chinese five-spice powder, normal anise, anise seeds, anise extract, fennel seeds, etc.
Where to Buy Star Anise?
You can get star anise in almost every grocery store. It is widely available everywhere. However, finding high quality can be a real challenge because plenty of star anise brands around. But we have made the work easier for you. We have listed a few best star anise products below. They have better quality, taste, and aroma.
- Soeos Star Anise Seeds (Anis Estrella), Whole Chinese Star Anise Pods, Dried Anise Star Spice, 4 oz.
- The Spice Way Star Anise – whole ( 3 oz ) great for baking and tea
- Soeos Organic Star Anise Seeds (4oz), USDA ORGANIC, NON-GMO Verified, Whole Chinese Star Anise Pods, Dried Anise Star Spice. (Organic).