The distinctive Star Anise has a heady, earthy, and licorice-y fragrance, with a hint of sweet pepper that tickles the end of the nose. It tastes sweet and warm; yes, like licorice, but with a touch of clove clinging to the top notes and a bittersweet finish. Star Anise has an essential oil component of 2.5%-3.5% and leaves a warm, slightly numb feeling in the mouth. That comes from the chemical compound anethol, an organic camphor that has properties that help offset topical discomfort.
Star Anise, despite being considered a spice, is a fruit. It comes from the Chinese evergreen tree, the Illicium verum, indigenous to China and Vietnam. These are slow-growing trees; they take a minimum of 6 years for the trees to start producing the star anise fruit, and may take up to 15 years for initial production. However, the trees are evergreen and produce fruit year-round once they do begin forming fruit. It can produce fruit for up to 100 years after the first fruit appears. Before fruiting, the flowers on the tree turn yellow. Immature Star Anise grows in green and turns brown as it matures. Each fruit has on average 8 petals, and each petal holds a polished, shiny, tan-colored seed.
Tips From Our Kitchen
Star Anise adds a fresh and invigorating element to hearty meats. It performs beautifully in braises with beef and duck, and is a secret ingredient in soup stocks, like Chinese chicken soup, oxtail soup, or the classic Vietnamese phō. Check stocks and braises as they cook; Star Anise is potent and will continue to flavor a dish as it cooks. If the cook time is long, add Star Anise in a cheesecloth bag so it can be removed easily if you decide it’s cooked in long enough. Should you only need a small amount of Star Anise, you can break off arms as necessary. It is also wonderful with sweets, so steep in milk for Star Anise-flavored caramel or ice cream. You can toast and grind it into powder for banana bread or pumpkin pie. We also offer Ground Star Anise if you would prefer that we do the work for you.
Our Star Anise is grown in Vietnam.
This product is certified kosher.