Anise, also known by its scientific and hard to pronounce name Pimpinella anisum, is a plant which is warm seasonal in nature and which can be grown through seeds. It reaches a maximum height of about twenty four inches and when planted should be spaced ten inches apart.
Origins of Anise
Anise originates in Southwest Asia along with the Mediterranean, and has a flavor which has been compared to fennel or licorice. It was cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians and other peoples of the Near East, and was eventually adopted in Europe due to its many medicinal attributes. This plant thrives in soil that is light and drained well, and the seeds should be planted immediately after the ground begins to warm during spring.
The leaves of the anise plant will typically be snipped so they can be used but it is essential that the seeds have a minimum of one hundred days which are frost free prior to harvesting. The seed heads are best harvested while green, in a location that is dry and warm so they can be properly threshed.
Popular Uses of Anise
Anise has been used in both Western and Eastern cuisine for many years. It appears in things which range from dishes to candy and beverages. The seeds, which are referred to as aniseed, are popular as a spice, and are used in the flavoring of beverages and food. In particular, it is popular for the making of cakes, bread and other confectionary items. It also tastes wonderful in fish soups along with salads. The seeds may also be used in alcoholic beverages such as Sambuca or absinthe. Like many other plants, its leaves may also be incorporated into the making of tea.
Health Benefits of Anise
When properly harvested and consumed, this plant provides a plethora of medicinal benefits. It is quite helpful to the organs; especially the liver, lungs, brain and heart, as the essential oil which is extracted from its seeds have diuretic, stimulant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic characteristics. When anise is consumed it will assist the body in getting rid of excessive estrogen. Additionally, consuming tea which is prepared using leaves taken from this plant or chewing its seeds directly can aid in the control of halitosis (bad breath), as well as bloating, nausea and gas.
A Look at Anise Essential Oils
The most powerful ingredient in anise essential oil is anethole, which is also found in indigenous spices which grow naturally in China, sometimes referred to as star anise but which is unrelated to anise proper. True anise is more expensive to produce than star anise and as a consequence is not regularly consumed by most people in East Asia. However, due to its superior taste and health benefits it regularly appears in upscale, costly dishes and demand for it is particularly high among the well to do. Like other plants, its essential oil can be extracted via the distillation of steam.