This article is about the Pimpinella species (not to be confused with star anise, Illicium verum, or with Japanese star anise, Illicium anisatum).Anise /ˈænɪs/, 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 star anise and fennel.
Anise is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 1 m (3 ft) or more tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 1-5 cm (⅜-2 in.) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm in (⅛ in.) in diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3–6 mm (⅛-¼
in.) long, usually called "aniseed".
Anise is a food plant for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths), including the lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.
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 some dishes, drinks, and candies, and 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 called star anise (Illicium verum) widely used in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes. Star
is considerably less expensive to produce, and has gradually
displaced Pimpinella anisum in Western markets. While formerly produced in larger quantities, by 1999 world production of the essential oil of anise was only 8 tonnes, compared to 400 tonnes from 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.
Fatty oil: 8-23%
Essential oil: 2-7%
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.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including the black jelly bean and , British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Netherland muisjes, Norwegian
knotts, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones.
It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India. Anise is also used in the Vietnamese noodle soup Pho.
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak, Colombian aguardiente, French spirits absinthe, anisette and pastis, Greek ouzo, Bulgarian mastika, German Jägermeister, Italian sambuca, Dutch Brokmöpke, Portuguese, Peruvian and Spanish anís, Mexican Xtabentún and Turkish rakı. In these liquors, it is clear, but on addition of water becomes cloudy, a phenomenon known as
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.
Anise, like fennel, contains anethole, a phytoestrogen.
Anise has been used to treat menstrual cramps.
The main use of anise in European herbal medicine was for its carminative effect, as noted by John Gerard in his "Great Herball," an early encyclopedia of herbal medicine.
The essential oil has reportedly been used as an insecticide against head-lice and mites.
Anise seed infusion made by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon anise seed and sweeten with honey has been used to treat smoker's cough.
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).
In Pakistani and Indian cuisine, 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.
In the Middle East, water is boiled with about a tablespoon of aniseed per teacup to make a special hot tea called yansoon. This tea 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.