Star Anise (whole)

(Illicium verum)


Chinese star anise is one of the most beautiful and fragrant spices in the world. The dried, star-shaped fruit of this Oriental tree are called Star Anise because of their distinctive star shape. 

Star anise has a very strong, distinct flavor that is warm, sweet, and spicy, similar to licorice, fennel seed, clove, and anise seed

Not to be confused with Anise Seed, Star Anise has a similar anise taste however it is quite pungent, clove and licorice-like.

Star Anise is an essential component of Chinese Five Spice powder and is used in many Oriental recipes, especially those made with duck.

Star Anise also adds flavor to stewed compotes of fruit when placed in whole during cooking. 

Star anise is a pillar ingredient in Chinese cooking; it is one of the main flavors in Chinese five-spice powder and is also used to make tea and season roast duck and other meats. In Vietnamese cuisine, star anise is part of the well-known soup, pho. In Western cultures, it is more often used to flavor liqueurs, such as absinthe, sambuca, and pastis, as well as baked goods like cookies and cakes.

Although the flavor of star anise is generally thought of as sweet, it is commonly used in savory dishes; it pairs well with citrus, onions, poultry, beef, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and should be used in small quantities.

Whole vs. Ground

Whole and ground star anise are used differently in cooking. The whole pods are added to braised dishes, soups, and stews to infuse flavor and are removed at the end of cooking. Ground star anise powder is used similarly to other ground spices.

The cooking technique will depend on whether whole pods or ground star anise is being used. Whole pods can be simmered in sauces, marinades, and soups, and then removed before serving. The pods do not soften as they cook and therefore cannot be consumed. The pods are very strong in flavor and if added too early to a recipe can overwhelm the other ingredients. The ground spice is much easier to work with and is added to a recipe similar to any other spice.

One of the fundamental components of Chinese five-spice powder, star anise is popular in Chinese "red cooking", where meat (often beef or pork) is turned a deep red-brown color by being braised in a dark soy sauce flavored broth. It's equally delicious in roasted duck or risotto, peach crumble or pea soup, iced tea or ice cream, cookies or chai.

Whole Star Anise is often used in craftwork as it is so beautiful, on a plate as a garnish or floated in a pot of tea. Since the flavor of star anise is very strong, most star anise used in cooking is broken or powdered, as a whole star overpowers most dishes. Broken Star Anise pieces are used in pickling (2- 3 points per quart), curry or stir fry (3-5 points per dish).

Star anise is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant, an evergreen shrub native to Southwest China.

The star anise pod, which is shaped like a star (hence its name), has an average of eight points, each containing a single pea-sized seed. Both the seeds and the pod are used in cooking and contain the sweet, potent anise flavor. Star anise is sold whole and ground.

Star anise is used in culinary applications for its distinct flavor but is also employed for its medicinal benefits. It is grown in China, Indo-China, and Japan and sometimes referred to as Chinese star anise.

Health Benefits

Star Anise contains a plant-based compound that, in conjunction with antioxidants, is said to be a dynamic anti-viral combination.

Extracts of star anise have been shown to exhibit strong antifungal properties, and is thought to be beneficial in eliminating toxic yeasts, such as Candida Albicans, which is linked to acne, migraines, low energy, and weight gain.

Star Anise is an excellent source of antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals can cause premature aging and cell damage.

Star Anise is also used for respiratory problems, and to ease digestive discomfort. It has been used to increase male and female libido.

Botanical Name (Illicium verum)
Common Names Badian, Chinese Anise
Flavor pungent, clovey and licorice-like.
Contains Whole dried star-shaped fruit
Application Use in Asian marinades and to flavour stewed fruit.

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