Anise has been in use since the 14th century, and has been cultivated in English gardens from the middle of the 16th century. There is evidence that anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C.
Anise bears a strong resemblance to the members of the carrot family, including dill, fennel, coriander, cumin and caraway. Anise is the true taste of licorice – its oils are distilled into the flavoring for licorice candy (not from the herb licorice, which has a different taste).
In the Bible there is mention of paying tithe with anise in the book of Matthew. In 1305, anise was listed by King Edward I as a taxable drug and merchants bringing it into London paid a toll to help raise money to maintain and repair London bridge.
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Anise as an Herb for Medicinal Use
Anise is another good herb for treating colic, gas, and indigestion.
Anise enjoys considerable reputation as a medicine in coughs. In hard, dry coughs where expectoration is difficult, it is of much value. It is often used in the form of lozenges. The seeds have also been used for smoking to promote expectoration. It is the mildest of the herbs used for these purposes.
Make an anise tincture by taking a handful of crushed anise seeds in a pint of inexpensive brandy. Steep this for two weeks, then strain out the seeds. Use a teaspoon of the resulting liquid at a time added to hot water or hot herbal drink (peppermint, for instance).
Anise essential oil is approved by the German Commission E to treat dyspeptic complaints and catarrh of the respiratory tract.
Anise essential oil is used in aromatherapy to soothe coughs and headaches. Anise Star has a powerful and licorice-like aroma. Anise star is generally non-toxic and non-irritating. Many people say a few drops of anise oil on their pillow helps them sleep like a baby.
The essential oil is reportedly antibacterial, antiviral, insecticidal, expectorant and antispasmodic. Many of these properties are due to the presence of anethole in the essential oil.
You can also use the oil for aromatherapy in a heat lamp or essential oil burner. It has a strong licorice scent. One visitor suggested saturating a small sponge and putting it in your vent to your air conditioning unit to scent your home.
Oil of anise is used also against insects especially when mixed with oil of sassafras and carbolic oil.
Culinary Uses of Anise
Commercially, anise oil is used to flavor cough syrups, chewing gum, ice cream, toothpaste, mouse bait and licorice flavored candy.
Not to be confused with star anise, which is generally used in Chinese dishes, anise is primarily associated with cakes, biscuits and confectionery, as well as rye breads.
Anise is used in much the same way as fennel to flavor fish, poultry, soups and root vegetable dishes. It can be added to curries, baked apples and cooked vegetables, including carrots, cabbage and beets. A tea can be made from the seeds and leaves. Anise seeds are GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
Numerous alcoholic drinks and cordials are flavored with aniseed. Anise liqueurs include Sambuca, Ouzo, Absinthe, Arak, Raki and Pastis.
Anise was also used as a spice. Mustacae is the name of a spiced cake the Romans introduced at the end of a rich meal to prevent indigestion. The cake consisted of meal, with anise, cumin and other aromatics.
In Germany, many cakes have an aniseed flavoring, and anise is also used as a flavoring for soups.
Home Made Anise Tea Recipe
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon dried anise leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
Pour the boiling water over the leaves and steep for about 5 minutes – a little longer if you like it strong. Strain and sweeten with the honey.
Folklore and Magickal
- Use anise seed in protection baths, combined with bay leaves.
- Sleeping on an anise pillow will drive away nightmares.
- Hang a sprig of anise on your bedpost to restore lost youth.
- Anise has a long standing folk reputation as an aphrodisiac.
- Magical Properties: Youth, protection, purification. Anise is a masculine plant associated eith Jupiter and the element of air.
Anise may cause contact dermatosis or allergic reactions in some individuals.
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