Anise (//; Pimpinella anisum), also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor has similarities with some other spices, such as star anise, fennel, and licorice.
Anise is an herbaceous annual plant growing to 3 ft (0.9 m) or more tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 3⁄8–2 in (1–5 cm) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous small leaflets. The flowers are white, approximately 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) in diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 1⁄8–1⁄4 in (3–6 mm) long, usually called "aniseed".
Anise plants grow best in light, fertile, well-drained soil. The seeds should be planted as soon as the ground warms up in spring. Because the plants have a taproot, they do not transplant well after being established, so they should be started either in their final location or transplanted while the seedlings are still small.
Western cuisines have long used anise to flavor dishes, drinks, and candies. The word is used for both the species of herb and its licorice-like flavor. The most powerful flavor component of the essential oil of anise, anethole, is found in both anise and an unrelated spice indigenous to northern China called star anise (Illicium verum) widely used in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes. Star anise is considerably less expensive to produce, and has gradually displaced P. anisum in Western markets. While formerly produced in larger quantities, by 1999 world production of the essential oil of anise was only 8 tons, compared to 400 tons of star anise.
As with all spices, the composition of anise varies considerably with origin and cultivation method. These are typical values for the main constituents.
- Moisture: 9-13%
- Protein: 18%
- Fatty oil: 8-23%
- Essential oil: 2-7%
- Starch: 5%
- N-free extract: 22-28%
- Crude fibre: 12-25%
Essential oil yielded by distillation is generally around 2-3% and anethole makes up 80-90% of this.
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Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or ground, are used for preparation of tea (alone or in combination with other aromatic herbs), as well as in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including black jelly beans, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Dutch muisjes, New Mexican bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís and champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India.
The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with aniseed called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. This tradition of serving cake at the end of festivities is the basis for the tradition of serving cake at weddings.
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak; Colombian aguardiente; French absinthe, anisette, and pastis; Greek ouzo; Bulgarian and Macedonian mastika; German Jägermeister; Swiss Appenzeller Alpenbitter; Italian sambuca; Dutch Brokmöpke; Portuguese, Peruvian, and Spanish anísado and Herbs de Majorca; Mexican Xtabentún; and Turkish rakı. These liquors are clear, but on addition of water become cloudy, a phenomenon known as the ouzo effect. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgil's in the United States.
The main use of anise in traditional European herbal medicine was for its carminative effect (reducing flatulence), as noted by John Gerard in his Great Herball, an early encyclopedia of herbal medicine:
The seed wasteth and consumeth winde, and is good against belchings and upbraidings of the stomacke, alaieth gripings of the belly, provoketh urine gently, maketh abundance of milke, and stirreth up bodily lust: it staieth the laske (diarrhea), and also the white flux (leukorrhea) in women.
- In the 1860s, American Civil War nurse Maureen Hellstrom used anise seeds as an early form of antiseptic. This method was later found to have caused high levels of toxicity in the blood and was discontinued shortly thereafter.
- According to Pliny the Elder, anise was used as a cure for sleeplessness, chewed with alexanders and a little honey in the morning to freshen the breath, and, when mixed with wine, as a remedy for asp bites (N.H. 20.72).
- The Biblical "anise" mentioned in some translations of Matthew 23 is dill (A. graveolens), rather than this plant.
- In 19th-century medicine, anise was prepared as aqua anisi ("Water of Anise") in doses of an ounce or more and as spiritus anisi ("Spirit of Anise") in doses of 5–20 minims.
- In Pakistani and Indian cuisines, no distinction is made between anise and fennel. Therefore, the same name (saunf) is usually given to both of them. Some use the term patli (thin) saunf or velayati (foreign) saunf to distinguish anise from fennel, although Gujarati has the term anisi or Sava.
- In the Middle East, water is boiled with about a tablespoon of aniseed per teacup to make a special hot tea called yansoon. This is given to mothers in Egypt when they are nursing.
- Builders of steam locomotives in Britain incorporated capsules of aniseed oil into white metal plain bearings, so the distinctive smell would give warning in case of overheating.
- Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both drag hunting and fishing. It is put on fishing lures to attract fish.
- Anise is frequently used to add flavor to mu'assel, particularly the double apple flavor.
- Anise is one of the three odors used in K9 Nosework.
- from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1897
- The Plant List, Pimpinella anisum L.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "anise, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1884.
- EB (1878).
- Altervista Flora Italiana, Anice vera, Pimpinella anisum L.
- Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) from Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages
- EB (1911).
- How to Grow Anise from growingherbs.org.uk
- Philip R. Ashurst (1999). Food Flavorings. Springer. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8342-1621-1.
- J.S. Pruthi: Spices and Condiments, New Delhi: National Book Trust (1976), p. 19.
- "Anise History". Our Herb Garden. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Jack S. Blocker, Jr.; David M. Fahey; Ian R. Tyrrell (2003). Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An Global Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 478–. ISBN 978-1-57607-833-4. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- John Gerard, The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597, p. 880, side 903
- Muller-Schwarze, Dietland (2006). Chemical Ecology of Vertebrates. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-36377-8. page = 287
- J.S. Pruthi: Spices and Condiments, New Delhi: National Book Trust (1976), p. 21.
- Pliny (1856). "Book XX. Anise—sixty-one remedies". The Natural History of Pliny 4. translators John Bostock, Henry Riley. London: Henry Bohn. pp. 271–274. OCLC 504358830.
- Railway Magazine (London: International Printing Company) 99: 287. 1953.
- Collins, Tony; et al. (2005). Encyclopedia of traditional British rural sports. Abingdon, England: Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-415-35224-6.
- Gabriel, Otto; von Brandt, Andres (2005). Fish catching methods of the world (4 ed.). Oxford, England: Blackwell. pp. 153–4. ISBN 978-0-85238-280-6.
- "Anise", Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. II, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, pp. 57–58.
- "Anise", Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. II, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911, p. 55.