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Anise (Pimpinella anisum, also anís (stressed on the second syllable) and aniseed) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It is known for its flavor, which resembles liquorice, fennel and tarragon.

Biology

Anise plant
Anise is an herbaceous annual plant growing to tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3 - 5 mm long. It is these seedpods that are referred to as "aniseed".

Anise is used as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths), including the lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.

Cultivation

Best growth is in light, fertile, well drained soil. Start plants from seeds as soon as the ground warms up in spring. Because plants have a taproot they do not transplant well after established, so start them where they are to grow, or transplant while seedlings are still small.

Production

The essential oil of anise formerly was produced in larger quantities, but by 1999 world production of this essential oil was only 8 tonnes, compared to 400 tonnes from star anise.

Uses

Anise seeds


Culinary

Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its licorice-like flavor. It is used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including Greek stuffed vine leaves (Dolma), British Aniseed balls, Australian Humbugs, New Zealand Aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German pfeffernusse and springerle, Netherland Muisjes, Norwegian knotts, and Peruvian Picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican "atole de anís" or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and taken as a digestive after meals in Indiamarker.

Liquor

Anise is used to flavor the Arab Arak, the Colombian Aguardiente, the French spirits Absinthe, Anisette, and Pastis, the Greek Ouzo and Eastern European Mastika, the German Jägermeister, the Italian Sambuca, the Peruvian Anís , and the Turkish Raki. It's believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beer such as Virgil's in the United States.

Medicinal

  • Anise, like fennel, contains anethole, a phytoestrogen.
  • Anise is a mild antiparasitic and its leaves can be used to treat digestive problems, relieve toothache, and its essential oil to treat lice and scabies.
  • Anise can be used to relieve menstrual cramps.


Miscellaneous

  • In aromatherapy, aniseed essential oil is used to treat colds and flu.
  • 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 scorpion stings (N.H. 20.72).
  • In 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.
  • In the Middle East, water is boiled with about a tablespoon of aniseed per teacup to make a special hot tea called Yansoon.
  • Builders of steam locomotives in Britain incorporated capsules of aniseed oil into white metal bearings, so that the distinctive smell would give warning in case of overheating.
  • Aniseed is the flavour of "Black Jack" gum and Nigeria's "Tom Tom" candy.
  • Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both hunting and fishing. It is put on fishing lures to attract fish.
  • Anethole, the principal component of anise oil, is a precursor that can eventually produce 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde which is can be used in the clandestine synthesis of psychedelic drugs such as 2C-B, 2C-I and DOB.


Notes

  1. http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Pimp_ani.html
  2. How to Grow Anise
  3. Spice Pages: Anise Seeds (Pimpinella anisum)


External links




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