Anise

  • Anise
  • Anise
  • Anise

Description

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) has small sage green to yellow ochre crescent-shaped seeds similar to caraway in appearance, with a distinct sweet though not overpowering licorice flavor. Anise is native to the Middle East and is widely cultivated in temperate regions of northern Africa, Greece, southern Russia, Malta, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Central America.

Uses

Not to be confused with star anise, which is generally used in Chinese dishes, anise is primarily associated with cakes, biscuits and confectionery, as well as rye breads. It is used in much the same way as fennel to flavour fish, poultry, soups and root vegetable dishes. Numerous alcoholic drinks and cordials are flavoured with aniseed, particularly French pastis, Pernod and Ricard, Greek ouzo, Spanish ojen, Turkish raki, Italian anesone, Arab arrak and Egyptian kibib.

History

The early Arabic name was anysum from which was derived the Greek anison and the Latin anisun. It is one of the oldest known spice plants used both for culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times. There is evidence that anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C. To aid digestion the Romans enjoyed anise-spiced cakes after heavy meals and it was spread throughout Europe by Roman legions. In the Bible there is mention of paying tithe with anise in the book of Matthew. In 1305, anise was listed by King Edward I as a taxable drug and merchants bringing it into London paid a toll to help raise moneys to maintain and repair London bridge. Of the any of the qualities attributed to anise we like what one writer warned: "it stirreth up bodily lust." This accredited to the same spice that could ward off the Evil Eye or keep away nightmares if placed under one's pillow.

Health Benefits

Anise is used as an expectorant and mild antimicrobial which is why today in many of the over the counter products, one of the main ingredients is anise. It is the essential oil of the seed that has proven to react on the secretory cells of the respiratory tract.

It should be noted that although not proven scientifically, those with high blood pressure should avoid anise. In some people it has been shown to increase the blood pressure.

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