Aniseed - A Popular Flavouring but With Medicinal Properties Too

Botanical Name Pimpinella anisum

Anise or Aniseed, less commonly known as anís (stressed on the first syllable) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia.

It is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 50 cm tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 2-5 cm long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery, pinnate, divided into numerous leaflets. The flowers are white, 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3-5 mm long.


Culinary Uses

Aniseed is used to make the British confectionary Aniseed balls and the old fashioned New Zealand confectionary, Aniseed wheels. Anise oil is used to make Italian cookies called pizzelles, and used in the frosting of yellow Italian cake-like cookies called "Drops" or "Anise Drops". It is a typical addition to Chinese five spice mix and some Thai spice mixes instead of Star Anise. Liquorice is often described as a sympathetic flavour as is fennel.Dogs are reputed to go mad for aniseed

Medicinal Uses

Aniseed is used to treat digestive problems, to relieve toothache, and its essential oil is used to treat lice and scabies.

Recreational Uses

Aniseed is used to flavour a number of different liqueurs, along with star anise and liquorice, the best known of which are as follows:-

Absinthe- This potent aniseed-flavoured liqueur contains the narcotic herb wormwood, so it isn't available in many developed countries.

Anesone- is an Italian aniseed-flavoured liqueur.

Anisette- is a French liqueur flavoured with aniseed It's sweeter and lower in alcohol than other aniseed flavoured liqueurs. Marie Brizard is the best known brand.

Arak (raki,arack,arrack,arraki)- comes from the Arabic word for juice, and it's applied to a wide variety of harsh-tasting alcoholic beverages that are flavoured with various herbs and spices, particularly aniseed. It's fairly strong stuff, and usually served as an apéritif.-

Galliano- This Italian liqueur is flavoured with aniseed and comes in an ungainly bottle that will never fit into any shelf in your drinks cabinet. It's used to make Harvey Wallbangers and other cocktails.

Herbsaint- This is a niche aniseed flavoured liqueur manufactured in New Orleans. It was originally developed as a non narcotic substitute for absinthe, which does contain a narcotic, wormwood, which is banned in the USA. It's used in mixed drinks and Oysters Rockefeller.

Mastika- This is a Greek brandy-based liqueur flavoured with gum mastic rather than aniseed.

Neopolitan Liqueur-is a cheap US Galliano substitute

Ouzo-is a very potent, aniseed-flavoured Greek liqueur is usually mixed into water, turning it cloudy (like you do with Pernod

Pastis- This is a liquorice-flavoured liqueur that the French like to serve with water (like Pernod)

Pernod- This is a popular brand of pastis, or liquorice-flavoured liqueur

Ricard- This is a popular brand of pastis, or liquorice-flavoured liqueur

Sambuca- This is a semi-dry Italian liqueur that's flavoured with aniseed, elderberries, herbs, and spices. It's traditional to float three coffee beans in each drink which has been set alight in the glass.

Aniseed - much loved as a flavouring and fragrance by a few but in an amazing number of products and with medicinal uses too. I am David Hugonin, owner and founder of Luminescents and The Natural Herbalist, one of Europe's most trusted suppliers of oils and raw herbal material

This article was published on 09 Jul 2014 and has been viewed 449 times
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