Christmas Flavours – Anise

canstockphoto22457898 anise seed


 This photo is of the anise in this blog.

 A point of clarification before we get into this blog.  The information here is for Anise Seed rather than Star Anise.  Read to the bottom for the differences.  Anise is the wonderful liquorice flavoured ingredient in many dishes.  It has been used for centuries for its scent, its taste and its healing properties. 

Anise in History

 The Egyptians and Greeks used anise as a diuretic, for digestion and even for toothaches.  It was once used as part of the payment of taxes.  There is some speculation that it may have been the original wedding cake because a cake made with anise was often brought after a wedding feast to ease the digestion. 

Anise in Magic

 Anise was once thought to ward off the evil eye.  It has been carried for luck and burned to increase clairvoyance and psychic awareness.  It can be placed under a pillow to chase away nightmares! 

Anise Medicine

 One of the major uses that have been attributed to anise is its use as a digestive aid.  Anise is an excellent herb for calming gas and bloating. The best way to use anise for this is by making it into tea.  Just steep an anise in water for 10 minutes and drink.  Anise has antispasmodic properties which help alleviate stomach ache.  It relieves the acid of nervous stomach.  It even assists with digesting food. 

Anise is used as an expectorant.  It can help break up chest congestion and allow for the removal of phlegm.  Its antiseptic properties also help protect the mucus membranes. 

Some other uses of anise include:

  • Menstrual cramps
  • PMS
  • Increase Lactation
  • Increase Libido

 Anise in Food

 Anise is sometimes added to liquorice to enhance the flavour.  It is used in the mediterranean to flavour soups and cakes as well as cookies.  For a tasty recipe for Anise cookies here is a link to one of my favourite recipe sites food.Com.  This one is for Italian Grandmother Anise Cookies.

canstockphoto1009608star anise

 There is a difference

Many people mistake Star Anise for Anise but they are actually different species.  It is possible to substitute anise seed for star anise in cooking since they both impart a liquorice flavour but make sure you look up the substitution ratio. 

Also make sure that you are getting the common Chinese Star Anise rather than the Japanese Star Anise which can be toxic.  For info on the FDA warning see