Little Miss Anise, “where are you going with that pretty unbrella, to a wedding?”, they asked. “No, I am not,” she said, and thanked them kindly, “a smart girl is always ready for any occassion” as she continued strolling along with out missing a step. This wisdom must have been shared with many of her family, the Apiaceae Family, why, you ask, because so many of her siblings seem to have the same idea, such as Miss Fennel, the counrty girl Miss Cow Parsley, the classy Miss Chervil, Miss Dill, and her brothers, Mr Carrot and Mr Celery.
Anise or as some say Aniseed – Pimpinella anisum, appears to have originated from West Asia and has been cultivated and used in the Egypt since ancient times (used in breads) and middle eastern regions, plus the Greece, Syria and Turkey and was introduced to Europe from the Romans, who used it in a type of cake after meals, because it helps with digestion, (I hope they declared it at the border) and the Americas received it from the early settlers, and since these times it has spread around the world. Spain, France and Russia are major producers of anise these days.
Speaking of Russia, Anise was one of the first herbs ever to be accepted by Russian herbalists. During the 19th century a Landlord began cultivating it in the province of Voronez and since then it is largely grown in the Caucasus and the Ukraine. It is one of the most popular ingregdients in over-the-counter remedies.
King Edward the First, had anise used to pay the custom tax ‘luxuries’ for the repairing of London bridge during the 14th century.
Miss Anise being ready for every social occassion is why she along with many of her siblings, end up at the social and entertainment table, with sweets and candy, drinks and beverages, buns and breads and excellent dishes and can be mixed with cumin and fennel.
This is due to her wonderful ‘liquorice-like’ flavour and aromaaassss.
Miss Anise is a great compliment to many a refreshing and healthy drink, for example: she can be mixed with coffee, chocolate and carob beverages, and makes great liquorice-flavoured tea combinations with such herbs as dandelion, and ginger. She is great in baked sweet pies containing mince fruit, plus various pastries, cakes, buns and breads – raised or flat such as, Pan Chuta – a Peruvian flat bread, muffins and biscuits/cookies, and due to its lollie-like flavour, can be used in after dinner dessert drinks. Plus soups, sauces, creams, and relishes.
Some other uses apart from medicinal, are potpourris, insecticides, antibacterial and fungicide, and aromatherapy. Some of these uses are in the essential oil form, and pure essential oils should not be ingested. An infused anise oil can be made from the seed too.
Anise can be confused with other members of her family and fennel is the main one due to being such alike, ‘look-a-like fraternal twins’, and so many others looking very similar.
Another herb and cooking favourite is “Star anise” this girl is a real foodie and looks nothing like Miss Anise, yet people will mix them up, due to having a similar flavour and their common names.
One character that you should never ever mix Star anise or Chinese star anise Illicium verum with is Japanese Star anise Illiicum anisatum or I. japonicum, as nice and kind as the Japanese people are, this plant is highly toxic and must be avoided.
How to use Anise
To make a simple Anise herbal tea, just throw in 1 teaspsoon of anise seed into a cup or mug. Pour in boiling hot water and cover for 5 to 10 minutes, after the steeping time, if needed you can add your favourite sweetner such as raw honey, stevia, erythritol, and enjoy. Yes it really is that simple.
If you want to Jazz it up a bit, you can mix anise seed with many other herbs to add more therapeutic affects or frankly just to add flavour, an example of this is dandelion root.
Here you would add 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1 teaspoon of dandelion root, pour in the boiling hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, add your sweetener and enjoy. If you want extra ‘potency’, break or crush the seed a little with a mortar and pestle. And if you have issues such as seeds wanting to float in you cup of herbal tea then you can either strain out the seeds or use an infuser.
The leaves and soft stems of anise can be added to salads and mixed with vegetables when being cooked as they too are aromatic, or finely chopped and cooked into baked goods and pastries. Frankly the seeds and oils suitable for cooking can be used anywhere you want to add the anise/liquorice flavour.
Simple Anise Leaf Wafers
- 1/2 teaspoons of crushed anise
- 1 teaspoon of chopped anise leaves
- 60 grams of butter
- 1 cup of flour
- Boiling water
- Place the chopped leaves into 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water and cover
- Allow to steep for 10 minutes and chill
- Rub the butter into the cup of flour, until looking like breadcrumbs
- Add the wet ingredients
- Make into a dough
- Roll into balls and flatten out on a greased baking tray
- Bake in a hot oven that has been ‘preheated’ for 10 – 12 minutes
- Or until the edges are slightly browning
- Cool and enjoy
Due to its aromatic freshness and anti-microbial actions, anise can be used in soaps, creams and ointments and lotions. For example a ointment can be rubbed on the chest to help relieve chest discomfort from a cough, or a syrup can be made to ease chest congestion as well.
The leaf and stem may be of good use as well as cracked seed or powder, depending on what you waht to do, as they all are aromatic.
Anise for Bad Breath
Simply chew on a few seeds , before meeting your loved one, EASY! And cheaper than those sugar or chemical filled breath poisoners, oops, I mean fresheners.
Anise for Lactation
Traditionally anise has been used to improve breastfeeding for mothers, so it can often be found in nurse maid teas. With breastfeeding, it is best to have a selection of several different herbs working in a few different ways:
These are herbs that help the mother directly to produce milk: some herbs are fenugreek, goat’s rue and blessed thistle.
These support the mother’s digestive system, calming and assiting her body to digest and obtain nutrients and to help baby too, some of these are: Fennel, anise, caraway, hops, and milk thistle
These herbs help simply to obtain nutrients, and improving the mothers health and well being, that’s why it’s called ‘Nutrition’, along with reasonable vitamins and minerals helps her baby as well via the breast milk.
These primarily are to calm and relax her, the more happy she is and content the more her natural hormone oxytocin goes up and this should improve her milk supply. ‘A frazzled mum don’t milk to well’. These herbs are lemon balm hops and oats, plus if you wish you can add some rose, lavender or chamomile.
Once the milk supply is confirmed by a qualified lactatition consultant then there really is no more need to continue the herbs and this may take a few weeks. If you wish to continue taking these herbs in a tea, I would advise just lowering the amount per day.
Please understand that there are many issues in regards to poor breastfeeding, so it is best not to self treat, and find a caring, supportive, qualified lactation consultant, who takes the time to explain things, answer your questions and care about you.
Anise Essential oil can be applied in the use of aromatherapy, and can also be used topically to help assist against skin infections, because it has anti-microbial actions, and is toxic to insects, therefore it can help to remove scabies, fleas or lice (nits) in the hair by placing and combing a little evenly throughout the hair and can be used to inhibit growth of fungus. Don’t use pure essential oils on babies and infants only and use inconjunction with a carrrier oil, for example olive oil, to dilute the concentration.
Infused Anise oil (not an essential oil)
- Anise seeds (dried and approximately a handful)
- A carrier oil – Almond oil or coconut or olive oil or similar
- Mortar and Pestle
- Loosely woven cloth or cheese cloth
- Glass container
- Sticky label and pen
- Break up and bruise the Anise seeds, but don’t powderised
- Place into a glass jar or bottle
- Pour in the carrier oil, enough to thourougly cover the seeds
- Seal on the lid and placed in the sunlight
- Leave in the sunlight for at least 4 weeks, or a minimum of 2 weeks
- Shake up the bottle once a day
- After 4 weeks strain into another glass container through the cloth
- Place the lid back on, and label with contents and date
You can speed up this process by following the same process as mentioned how to make Lavender oil in the lavender post.
Anise is supposed to make a great companion plant to coriander, as it is said that coriander helps to speed anise’s germination and growth, and they assist the seed formation of each other. Anise attracts predatory wasps and helps to repel aphids. But its not a good idea to grow it with basil, rue and carrots.
How to grow Anise
Anise is an annual that grows to approximately between 45cm to 90cm or 18″ to 3′ that becomes a natural source of phosphorus and aids digestion. It should be noted that anise can be slow to germinate, depending on conditions, but I believe that it should be only 2 weeks. Sow after the last frost, when in colder climates, and when placing it out in the garden, give it a warm and sunny position, out of the wind, with well drained soil around 6.0 pH, and the best seasons to plant in are spring and summer. When young, it does prefer regular watering especially if it’s getting a dry, once established it can handle some dryness.
Plant the seed 6mm to 12mm 1/4″ to 1/2″ into seedling containers or into garden seed drills and cover over gently and water in and keep the soil slightly moist. If planting into seed drills, plant about one every 2.5 cm or 1 “. Water regularly 2 times a week until they are about 18cm high, then reduce watering.
If planting from seedlings from the nursery, be gentle with them as they are soft and fragile.
Pests and diseases
Some possible pests are: larvae from the Lepidoptera species, that is, butterflies and moths, for example, the lime-speck pug and the wormwood pug
During late summer and into autumn collect from your garden or from the wild if it grows near you, (always carefully identify all herbs from the wild), once the first ‘Umbels’ appear, this is the beautiful array of tiny flowers that spread out like an umbrella.
Technically, an Umbel is the ‘infloresence’ from which the flower stalks arise from one point.
You can dry the seeds by tying them up together in small bunches upside down inside paper bags in an open space with plenty of fresh air to stay dry, for example, a well ventilated room or covered area
Once the seed is dry, you can store them in a cool, dry and dark place and will keep sealed in a glass container for up to 3 years, but if you grind it to powder, it will shorten its potency life, but the flavour should still be there.
The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.
Seeds, but can use leaves and soft stems in cooking etc
Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 3.5 – 7.0 grams
Expectorant, oestrogen modulating, galactagogue, spasmolytic, carminative, and antimicrobial
Intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile colic, dyspepsia, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, tracheitis, gastrointestinal candidiasis, parasites, modify bowel flora, and hot flashes. Plus, Difficult lactation and pertussis, spasmodic cough, bronchial catarrh, scabies and pediculosis
Essential oils, fixed oil, flavonoids, phenylpropenyl esters
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD), do not consume in large doses, and do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.
Not very common
Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.
Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda