Star anise is a star-shaped spice that is the dried fruit of an Asian evergreen tree native to China and Vietnam (Illyricum velum). It’s a frequent component in Chinese cooking and has a sweet, licorice-like flavor. Star anise (also known as Chinese star anise) can be used to flavor herbal teas, cocktails, soups, braised meats, and poached fruit. To know health benefits of star anise, read fur
The therapeutic qualities of star anise are also well-known. To improve digestion and relieve bloating, drink star anise tea or add a few drops of star anise essential oil to hot water at the end of a big meal. Antioxidants and vitamins A and C found in star anise help fight free radicals that cause premature aging and diabetes.
What is Star Anise?
Star anise is used in cooking because of its unusual flavor, but it also has therapeutic properties. It is also known as Chinese star anise and is grown in China, Indo-China, and Japan. Star anise is a staple of Chinese cuisine; it’s one of the critical tastes in Chinese five-spice powder, and it’s also used to flavor tea and roast duck and other meats.
Star anise is a common ingredient in the famous Vietnamese soup pho. It’s more commonly used to flavor liqueurs like absinthe, sambuca, and pastis and baked products like cookies and cakes in Western cultures. The star anise pod is harvested before it ripens and then sun-dried, turning it a dark brown or rust hue. The characteristic flavor comes from anethole, the same oil that gives anise seed its licorice flavor.
Health Benefits of Star Anise
For thousands of years, star anise has been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, and it has recently been adopted into some Western therapeutic procedures.
Its antibacterial qualities and pharmacological potential have helped it gain popularity.
Star anise’s shikimic acid concentration is one of the most popular pharmacologically relevant characteristics.
Shikimic acid is an antiviral chemical with a lot of power. It’s one of the critical active chemicals in Tamiflu, a widely prescribed influenza medicine. Star anise is currently the most common source of shikimic acid used in pharmaceutical product development. The demand for star anise increases as the influenza pandemic continues to pose a danger to world health.
According to a specific test-tube study, other types of viral infections, such as herpes simplex type 1, may be treated with the essential oil of star anise. Though star anise is commonly used to treat influenza, additional research is needed to fully comprehend its potential for treating other viral diseases in people.
The flavonoid anethole is abundant in star anise, and this chemical gives the spice its characteristic flavor and has antifungal properties. According to some agricultural studies, trans-anethole produced from star anise has been reported to suppress the growth of pathogenic fungus in some edible crops.
Other bioactive components present in star anise essential oil, such as the terpene linalool, have been shown in test tubes to inhibit the biofilm and cell wall production of pathogenic fungus in humans. More research is needed to understand better how star anise can be used to treat human fungal diseases.
Another notable medical property of star anise is its capacity to prevent bacterial growth, linked to a range of ailments.
According to certain studies, star anise extract is just as efficient as antibiotics against various drug-resistant pathogenic microorganisms. This could be very important in developing novel antibiotic drugs in the future. Bioactive chemicals in star anise have also been proven beneficial in treating urinary tract infections produced by various bacteria in test tubes.
In a separate study, star anise extract was slightly successful in suppressing E. coli growth in a petri dish. However, it wasn’t as effective as more commonly used antibiotics. Most research on star anise’s antibacterial capabilities is now limited to animal and test-tube investigations. More research is needed to understand better how this spice can help people’s health.
What does Star Anise Look and Taste Like?
The spice star anise has a striking appearance, like a little rust-colored star. It usually has 6 to 8 points, each containing a tiny seed that serves as the taste epicenter. Like clove and aniseed, the spice imparts a sweet, licorice-like flavor to meals. Star anise has a distinct, warm, sweet, and spicy flavor akin to licorice, fennel seed, clove, and, of course, anise seed. Although star anise has a sweet flavor, it is frequently used in savory dishes; it goes well with citrus, onions, poultry, meat, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and should be used in modest amounts.
How to Buy and Store Star Anise?
Star anise can be obtained whole or ground, with the whole being more challenging to come by; Asian or Indian grocery stores would be the best bet. Ground star anise can be purchased in the spice aisle or the Asian ingredient area of most supermarkets. Make sure the pods aren’t broken if you’re buying whole star anise. Whether whole or crushed, the star anise should have a strong aroma.
Although it can be found in certain regular supermarkets, Asian markets are the best to get high-quality star anise.
- Look for real stars with unbroken points for the best flavor.
Break off a point, smash the seed, and smell it to check for freshness.
- You should immediately detect the aroma; if it has gone, it may be stale.
- Keep in a dark, cool area in an airtight container. The whole star anise will keep for about a year. However, ground star anise will lose flavor after six months.
Culinary Uses of Star Anise
In Vietnamese and Chinese cooking, star anise is utilized similarly to bay leaves. Star anise pods are cooked whole in soups, stews, and braises. Before serving, star anise, like bay leaves, is usually removed and discarded from the meal. In savory meals, it goes well with citrus, fowl, and beef, offering a sweet licorice-like flavor contrast. Ground star anise is more aromatic and can be used in dishes and baked goods in tiny amounts. Despite its sweetness, Star anise has long been associated with savory dishes, particularly meats. When added whole, it provides a sweet-licorice-peppery flavor to soups, stews, and braising broths. Whole or ground star anise can be utilized.
What’s the Difference Between Star Anise and Anise?
Despite their similar names and licorice flavor, star anise and anise are unrelated and derive from individual plants. The star-shaped fruit of a tree in the magnolia family is star anise. It has a more robust and intense flavor than the anise seed and is most commonly used in Asian cooking. Anise (Aniseed) is a flowering plant related to dill and cumin in the Apiaceae family, and it’s found in sambuca and ouzo, among other spirits. Throughout the Mediterranean, the seeds are utilized in herbal teas and pieces of bread.
How to Substitute Star Anise?
Powdered five-spice- Star anise is already present in Chinese five-spice powder, readily available in most grocery stores. For every two teaspoons of ground star anise in your recipe, use 112 tablespoons of five-spice powder.
Seed of anise- Although both spices contain the term anise, they are not related. Anise seed has a licorice flavor similar to star anise. When substituting anise seed for star anise, be sure to use twice as much anise seed because it is considerably milder. Allspice- Allspice is sweeter and lacks the licorice overtones of star anise, although it can be substituted in a pinch. When pulverized, its aromatic properties are akin to cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
4 Easy Star Anise Recipe Ideas
- To create star anise tea, start by boiling water in a kettle. Allow 1 to 2-star anise pods per cup of water to steep for 10-15 minutes in a teapot. Strain and add honey to taste. To relieve your stomach, drink up to three times a day after each meal.
- To prepare five-spice powder, roast two teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns on a dry pan for 2-3 minutes, or until their scent escapes. In a spice grinder, crush the peppercorns with 5-star anise seeds. 12 teaspoon ground cloves, one tablespoon ground Chinese cinnamon, and one tablespoon ground fennel seed should be added to the mixture. Keep in an airtight container in a dark, excellent location.
- In a big pot over medium heat, heat 2 pounds of chicken wings, 1 cup soy sauce, and 3 cups water to make soy sauce chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower to low heat. One sliced ginger piece, three smashed garlic cloves, 3 tbsp sugar, one cinnamon stick, and 3-star anise seeds. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done and tender.
- Add 2 cups dry red wine, 23% sugar, 12 cups water, and 4-star anise seeds to make poached pears in a big pot. Bring to a boil, constantly stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Three pears (Bosc) (peeled, halved, and cored). Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced to a syrup consistency.
The licorice flavor of star anise can be used to enhance some foods, and its potent bioactive components could aid in treating a variety of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. While pure Chinese star anise is generally safe to consume, it may be tainted with potentially poisonous Japanese star anise. To minimize bad reactions, always double-check the provenance of the spice you’re buying and start with a small amount.
Keep whole or ground spices away from moisture, heat, and sunlight in an airtight container. Whole star anise will keep its flavor for around a year. However, ground star anise will lose flavor after about six months. The flavor of ground spices can be enhanced by toasting them before using them.