Inventory, 8 oz : 0
This item was last sold on : 11/25/22
Star Anise is a dark brown and rust-colored seed pod measuring 1 to 3 centimeters in size. The pods have a unique star shape, with 6 to 8 pronged arms stretching outward from a central axis, tapering to a point at each end. The prongs are often split slightly open, with each arm containing one pea-sized seed. The star-shaped pods have an intense, licorice-like aroma with a distinct and robust warm, sweet, and spicy flavor with prevalent notes of anise, mint, and clove.
Star Anise is available year-round, with fresh pods harvested between March and May.
Star Anise is the dried seed pod of the Illicium verum plant, an evergreen shrub related to the Magnolia tree. The fruit of the anise tree is harvested before it ripens and sundried. As the pod dries, it hardens, and the color turns from light green to a rusty brown. Star Anise can be found both whole and ground, and the dried seed pod is used in culinary applications, aromatherapy, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The Star Anise used for culinary and pharmaceutical applications is Chinese Star Anise, not to be confused with Japanese Star Anise, which is related but comes from a different tree. Japanese Star Anise is toxic and should not be consumed, although it is regularly used in aromatherapy and as incense. Star Anise is often confused for anise seed or aniseed because of the similarities of their names and flavor, however, the two are unrelated. Aniseed is the fruit of the Pimpinella anisum plant and is related to dill and fennel.
Star Anise is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C. The seed pods contain antimicrobial properties that have been shown to help protect the body from certain bacteria and candida fungus. Star Anise also contains high levels of shikimic acid, the compound found in Tamiflu used to treat influenza.
Star Anise is a popular ingredient in many Asian and European cuisines. The seed pods are a pillar ingredient in Chinese cooking and are one of the five ingredients that make up the traditional Chinese Five spice. In Vietnamese cooking, the spice helps to create the distinctive broth for the soup, pho, and in India, Star Anise is added to many spice mixes, including garam masala and chai. In Western cuisines, the spice is used mainly in sweet capacities, flavoring confections, bread, and cakes, and in the production of spirits like Absinthe, Sambuca, and Ouzo. In Persian and Mughal, the seed pods flavor rice dishes and rich meat curries. The whole seed pod can be added to soups, stews, curries, and braised meats but should be removed before serving as it does not soften during cooking. Star Anise pairs well with citrus, figs, onions, poultry, and beef, as well as with other warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The pods can be ground into a fine powder and added to spice rubs, marinades, cookies, and cakes. The flavor will dissipate quickly after the pod has been ground, so it should be made in smaller quantities and used within a few weeks for optimum flavor. Store whole Star Anise in an airtight container in a cool and dry place for up to a year.
Star Anise is incredibly important in Chinese culture as it is not only a culinary spice but also a medicinal ingredient. The seed pod's intensely sweet and warm licorice flavor is believed to have warming capabilities within the body. This is important in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, which uses warming and cooling ingredients to balance the qi or chi of the body, which is comprised of the cool yin and warm yang. These two must be in harmony for the body to function properly. Star Anise is used to treat digestion and respiratory health in TCM. In Western medicine, Star Anise is used in Tamiflu, a medication used to treat the influenza virus. The seed pods contain high levels of shikimic acid and are the primary source of this compound needed to manufacture the immune bolstering medication.
Star Anise is native to Vietnam and Southern China, where it has been used for cooking and as a medicine for over 3,000 years. The spice was enjoyed mostly within the Asian region until the late 1600s when an English sailor discovered it in the Philippines. This navigator, Sir Thomas Cavendish, brought the spice back to England, incorrectly placing its origin in the Philippines. The spice quickly gained popularity and spread into Russia and Germany via tea routes through the 18th century. The spice was later introduced to the New World by European settlers, where it was used medicinally and in the production of sweets. Today, Star Anise is grown in China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. The star-shaped seedpods may be challenging to find in traditional grocery stores but are more easily found in spice shops and stores catering to Asian or Indian cuisine.
Restaurants currently purchasing this product as an ingredient for their menu.
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Recipes that include Star Anise. One is easiest, three is harder.
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