Anise is the dried ripe fruit of the herb Pimpinella anisum. The crescent shaped seeds are unmistakably identified by their distinctive licorice-like flavor. Anise is not related to the European plant whose roots are the source of true licorice.
Anise is a slow-growing annual which flowers about 3 months after planting. It grows to a height of 2' and produces yellowish-white flowers in umbrella-like clusters. It will grow best in a deep, fertile soil in a sunny, warm location. It should be planted 6" — 10" apart in rows 2' — 3' apart. This herb is grown for its seeds which are ready for harvest about one month after bloom. The licorice-flavored seed is widely used in breads and cookies.
Anise is used whole or crushed in cookies, cakes, breads, cheese, pickles, stews, fish, and shellfish. Roasting enhances the flavor. Middle East, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French cuisines use anise in seasoning blends such as curry, hoisin, sausage, and pepperoni seasonings.
Most Anise is produced in Spain but additional sources include Turkey and Egypt. Spanish Anise is considered premium due to its better flavor, bolder appearance and higher volatile oil content.
Anise, one of the oldest cultivated spices was enjoyed by the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In first century Rome, anise was a flavoring in mustaceus, a popular spice cake baked in bay leaves and eaten after a feast to prevent indigestion. Anise became so valued in England that its import was taxed. In 1305, the import tolls collected on anise seed helped pay for repairs to the London Bridge.