Anise is not star anise! Read how to distinguish them from each other and what uses this ancient spice has

Anise lends a subtle hint of licorice to baked goods, but also to any other dish in which you decide to use this spice!

That’s why it remains so popular in all cultures even after centuries!

With the help of our article, learn to discover all its positive qualities and learn to work with it!
This article brings you the best tips and tricks for recipes as well as making a homemade medicinal extract that works for almost anything!

What is anise?

The seeds are produced by the Pimpinella anisum plant, which has been cultivated in Egypt, the Middle East and Europe for many centuries.

Anise seed is used as a ground or whole spice. Anise essential oil and extract are also produced from the seeds. The seeds are small, brownish gray with a licorice scent.

The plant also has aromatic leaves and stems that can be used as an herb, tasting like licorice, fennel or tarragon.

Drawn whole anise herb.

What is the difference between anise, star anise and fennel?

Anise vs. star anise

Anise is not related to star anise, as star anise is a spice from a different plant family. Both can be used to make anise extract because they both contain anethole, which has a characteristic anise flavor.

Anise is the source of the extract and seeds used in European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Star anise comes from China. Since star anise is cheaper to produce, today much of the essential oil of anise is derived from star anise.

How star anise compares to anise.

Anise vs. fennel

Anise is not even the same as fennel, although both have a similar flavor and the plants look somewhat similar.

Anise and fennel are from the same plant family (along with cumin, parsley, coriander and others), but they are different species. Generally, fennel is used as a vegetable, while anise is used as a spice in the form of seeds, either whole or ground.

What fresh fennel and dried seeds look like.

Medicinal effects of anise

Rich in nutrients

Although anise seeds are used in relatively small amounts, each serving contains a large amount of important micronutrients.

One tablespoon (7 grams) of anise seeds contains:

Calorie Proteins Fats Carbohydrates Fiber
23 kcal 1 g 1 g 3 g 1 g

Vitamin and mineral content (per 7 g)

Iron Manganese Calcium Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Copper
13 % 7% 4% 3% 3% 3% 3%
* recommended daily intake

It can reduce symptoms of depression

Depression is a common but debilitating condition that affects up to 25% of women and 12% of men worldwide. Anise seed extract showed strong antidepressant properties in mice and was as effective as a common prescription drug used to treat depression.

It can protect against stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers are painful ulcers that form in the lining of the stomach and cause indigestion, nausea and a burning sensation in the chest. Anise seeds could help prevent stomach ulcers and reduce symptoms.

Prevents the growth of mold and bacteria

Studies show that anise seeds and their compounds have powerful antimicrobial properties that prevent infections and block the growth of fungi and bacteria.

It can help ease menopausal symptoms

Menopause is a natural decline in female reproductive hormones during aging, resulting in symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue and dry skin. Anise seeds mimic the function of estrogen in the body and potentially reduce menopausal symptoms.

It can balance blood sugar levels

Anethole, a component in anise seeds, can keep blood sugar under control when paired with a healthy diet.

It can reduce inflammation

Anise seeds can reduce inflammation, thus promoting better health and preventing the development of other diseases. Anise seed oil reduces swelling and pain.

Anise herb and its health effects to support the body.

What does anise taste like?

Anise has a licorice flavor that is sweet, slightly spicy and very aromatic. This flavor is produced by anethole, which is also present in tarragon and basil.

What is anise used for?

Anise seeds (whole or ground) can be added to fruit pie fillings and mincemeat.
For example, add it to pastry dough like these Indian naan recipes and nibble on one of these butter chicken recipes orthis Indian specialty dhal
Cook one of these hearty semolina soups with anise seeds.
Anise extract can be used in baked goods and to flavor drinks such as coffee or hot chocolate.
Anise seed is a flavoring agent in a number of alcoholic beverages, including sambuca and absinthe.
The seeds can also be used to make licorice flavored tea.
Use it to bake sweet aniseed bread, aniseed biscuits and aniseed cinnamon biscuits or our aniseed cookies

Tips for recipes with anise

  • It goes well with seafood, meat, fruit and chocolate
  • Add it to other spices and herbs such as cumin, cloves, mace, pink pepper and tarragon
  • The leaves and stems can be used in soups and salads
  • Because of their consistency, anise seeds, anise extract and anise oil are better ingredients for use in recipes such as: Italian biscotti and pizzelles, German springerle and pfeffernüss, alcoholic beverages such as absinthe, arrack, raki and ouzo and in spiced beer
The most diverse recipes for sweet and savory dishes to which we can add anise.

What to replace anise with?

If you don’t have anise seed available for the recipe, the best substitutes would be fennel seed, a few drops of anise or star anise extract.

If you have whole star anise, it should be ground before use, you plan to keep it in the finished dish, because of its hard texture, it would be unpleasant to chew it whole.

Recipe for anise extract

If you have anise seeds, vodka and a small glass, you can make anise extract, which can then be used to flavor coffee, for example.

  • Sterilize a 120 ml jar.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of anise seeds to the glass, then 60 ml of vodka.
  • Close the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark place for two to three months.
  • Then strain the seeds by pouring them over a thin layer into another bottle or glass.
  • Store in a cool, dark place. The extract should last up to five years.
What a glass full of anise extract looks like.

How to store anise?

Whole or ground anise seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place for best shelf life.

Whole seeds will be at their best for three to four years.

Ground aniseed loses its quality more quickly, but is still good to use.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)