Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum, also anìs (stressed on the second syllable) and anise) has small sage green to yellow ochre crescent-shaped seeds similar to caraway in appearance, with a distinct sweet though not overpowering liquorice flavour. Aniseed 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.
- Aniseed is best purchased whole, as the ground powder quickly loses its flavour.
- Whole aniseed keeps up to 3 years. Dry-roast aniseed to heighten their aroma and make them brittle and easy to crush. Store ground aniseed in a clean, dry jar and use within 6 months.
Aniseed has a wide range of culinary applications, both sweet and savoury.
In the Middle East and India, aniseed is used in soups and stews, and various cuisines use aniseed in seasoning blends such as curry, hoisin, sausage and pepperoni seasonings.
All above-ground parts of the young aniseed plant can be eaten as a vegetable. The stems resemble those of celery in texture and have a much milder liquorice flavour than the seeds.
Aniseed is also used whole or crushed in cakes, cookies, pastries, sweet breads and candy. Examples include aniseed balls (a favourite English sweet), Italian biscotti and Springerle, a German cookie with an embossed design which is traditionally aniseed-flavoured.
Make biscotti with walnuts, diced figs, and ground aniseed.
Toast aniseed in hot oil and pour over cooked lentils, Indian-style, as a fragrant, sizzling garnish.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Spice
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