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Star Anise – The Super Spice

Star Anise also known as the super spice is an evergreen, medium sized tree native to Northeast Vietnam and South west China. In India, Arunachal Pradesh produces limited amount of this spice. It requires woodlands, partial shades and sunny edges. It has 6-8 carpels and each contains a single seed. The Star Anise pod is dried first, which turns into deep brown or rust colour and then it is used.

star anise has seeds in each carpel    star anise

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It has flavour similar to anise but they both are unrelated. This star shaped pod has anethole, a compound which has liquorice like flavour. This flavour is present in both Star Anise and Anise Seed. The Liquorice like flavour resembles to fennel and basil too. Both the seeds and pod contain sweet, potent anise flavour . It tastes like regular anise seed, but is slightly bitter than it. It has a pleasing after taste. However Japanese Star Anise is toxic and hence is not edible.

Grounded Star Anise is one of the ingredients of Chinese Five-Spice powder. The other ingredients are Cloves, Cinnamon, Sichuan Pepper and ground Fennel seeds. This spice is also known as Star Anise Seed, Illicium Verum, Chinese Star Anise, Badian, Phool Chakra. The oil of this spice is highly fragrant therefore it is used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpaste, skin creams, mouthwashes, etc.

grounded star anise

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It is also known as Super Spice because not only it has culinary uses but also has medicinal properties,

Culinary Uses:

1. Star Anise is used as an infuser in soups, stews and braised dishes.

star anise infused tea

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2. It is mostly used in meats. Chinese stocks and soups generally use this spice , since its known as digestive aid.
3. In west, this spice is added in jams, fruit compotes, etc. Its oil is also added in anise flavoured liqueurs, best known as Anisette.
4. The seeds of Star Anise is used as flavouring additives in teas, soups and marinades.

star anise infused tea

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5. It is an essential spice in preparation of Biryani and other masala items in Indian subcontinent. However it is removed from cooked rice dish before serving.
6. It is used as one of the ingredients in Chinese red cooking, where the ingredients are simmered for lengthy period in Dark Soy Sauce.

Medicinal Uses:

1. It is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin A and C thus works as an anti ageing wonder and also as an anti diabetic one.
2. The oil from Star Anise contains Thymol, Terpineol and Anethole, which helps in treatment of cough and flu.
3. This spice is the best natural source of Shikimuc Acid, which is the main ingredient to treat TamiFlu.
4. Star Anise Tea if consumed after meals , it helps in treating digestive ailments such as bloating, gas, Indigestion and constipation.

Storage of Star Anise

Like all the other spices Star Anise should be stored in air tight container, away from heat and sunlight. Whole stars generally will stay fresh for about 2 years. However grounded Star Anise stays for about an year.

After knowing about the spice Star Anise and its culinary uses and health benefits I plan to incorporate this spice in my dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed researching on it. Hope you all enjoyed reading about Star Anise.

Written by Ekta Agarwal

Hello everyone!! I am Ekta Agarwal from Hyderabad, India. Welcome to my blog where I share my recipes (tried and tested), interesting write ups on herbs, spices, cuisines and dining experiences.

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