What is Anise?


anise plant

Anise (stressed on the first syllable, rhyming with "Janice"), or more rarely anĂ­s (stressed on the second syllable, as "a niece") (Pimpinella anisum) is an herb in the family Apiaceae (formerly Umbelliferae) whose seed-like fruit (also called aniseed) is used in sweet baking as well as in anise-flavored liqueurs (e.g. Ouzo). The fruit consists of two united carpels, called a cremocarp, and has a strong aromatic taste and a powerful odour. Anise seed is also used in some curries and seafood dishes, and is used as a breath sweetener and digestive aid.

All above-ground parts of the young anise plant are also eaten as a vegetable. The stems resemble those of celery in texture and are much milder in flavor than the fruits. Anise is believed to be a galactagogue. By distillation the fruit yields the volatile oil of anise, which is useful in the treatment of flatulence and colic in children. It may be given as Aqua Anisi, in doses of one or more ounces, or as the Spiritus Anisi, in doses of 5-20 minims.

The primary constituent of the oil (up to 90%) is anethole, C10H12O or C6H4[1.4](OCH3)(CH:CH.CH3.) It also contains methyl chavicol, anisic aldehyde, anisic acid, and a terpene. The Chinese star anise also contains anethole but is botanically unrelated to anise. Because of its similar taste and aroma, it has recently come into use in the West as a (cheaper) substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), the term anise in the Christian Bible (Matt. 23:23) refers to the herb known today as dill (Anethum' or Peucedanum graveolens).

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