What is Anise (Aniseed)?

Pimpinella anisum L.

Also called aniseed

Anise is an annual herbaceous plant in the carrot family, Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), whose flowers are arranged in an umbrella shape. Plants in the carrot family are well known for their aromatic smell and characteristic flavours, which come from essential oils. Examples are: Coriander, Dill, Cumin, Parsley, Celery, Fennel and Angelica.

Anise is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia (WIKI). It is grown for its seed, also known as anise or aniseed. The so called “seed” is actually a tiny fruit called a schizocarp. Each fruit contains a single seed.

The characteristic sweet flavour and odour of the seed, is due to presence of essential oil of Anise. The oil is traditionally used to flavour liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) in liquorice candy. As a result, the flavour of anise is often confused with that of liquorice and erroneously described as liquorice-like. (PROSEA)

Anise seeds

  • The brownish green oval seeds with the characteristic sweet flavour and aromatic smell have been used to flavour a wide variety foods, drinks and candies, for years. They can be used whole or ground.
  • They are used in herbal teas, to flavour classic confectionary, like black jelly beans, Italian Pizzelle, or British aniseed balls
  • They are also used to flavour liqueurs (liquors) (French absinthe, Italian Sambuca)
  • They can be used to flavour cakes, root beer, fruits like applesauce, braised beef, cabbage, cookies or desserts.

What makes anise have that nice aroma and flavour

The aroma and flavour comes form the essential oil of Anise. The main ingredient in the oil is called Anethole. Anethole is also found in star anise, which is a reasonably cheaper spice than anise. Star anise (Illicium verum) is not related to anise because it belongs to the family Schisandraceae and not Apicaceae.

Commercial production of anethole (essential oil of Anise) has shifted to star anise which is a cheaper source. (WIKI)

The essential oil is also used in making perfumes, soaps and other toiletries.

Do you want to read more about Anise?

  1. Plant Resources of South East Asia, Pimpinella anisum L.
  2. Seedaholic.com Piimpinella anisum


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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