Anise is a member of the Umbelliferae family which also includes fennel, caraway, coriander and dill; it is not related to licorice, although it smells very similar. It is not related to star anise either, although they are sometimes used interchangeably in Eastern food. That distinctly licorice flavor is the result of the plant's high anethole content, a white, crystalline substance. When this anethole solidifies on the outside of the seeds (usually after it's been chilled), it sometimes causes anise to sparkle. Anise was cultivated in ancient Egypt and is often mentioned in the Bible (as a payment for tithe).
Anise seed is used extensively to flavor liquors, cookies, cakes, fruit dishes, coleslaw, rye bread, apple pie and meats. It also makes a wonderful addition to teas. The warm, sweet flavor of anise is enjoyed in a variety of ethnic cuisines, including those of the Middle East, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Use it to flavor your cakes, cookies, cheeses, fruit pies and salads, rye breads, meat dishes, soups, dressings, stews, and fish sauces. Try it in cottage cheese, baked apples, coleslaw, cream cheese, pickles, and egg dishes. It's often a component in blends for curry and hoisin, and you'll find it in German springerle, Italian biscotti, licorice candies, and Italian sausage and pepperoni.
Chaya's note: I recently went to a dinner with an unusual fruit salad--with anise seed in it! It was absolutely delicious and the talk of the meal, too.
Organic: QAI Certified Organic
Kosher: KSA Certified
Common Name: Anise