Star anise: all the properties of this fragrant plant and how to use it in the kitchen!
Star anise is a very special plant, from which a spice with incredible beneficial properties is obtained and which, moreover, has a very intense aroma! Its name derives from the typical star shape of its fruit, with 8- 12 tips In fact, what we use of this plant is only the "pericarp", that is the wall of the fruit, the one that serves to protect the seed.The pericarp is collected together with the fruit, dried and ground.
The real plant is called "Illicium verum" and should not be confused with that of the common anise: it is in fact a tree native to Southeast Asia, an evergreen that can reach 10 meters in height, and is very widespread in China and Vietnam.
The aroma of star anise is intense and pungent, almost sweet, similar in some ways to that of licorice, which it is not by chance that it often replaces. Its properties, both aromatic and digestive, were known since ancient times and already appreciated by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who even used it in cooking.
Let's find out together which are the much praised properties of star anise, which recipes it can be used in (from herbal teas to oriental dishes) and finally where to buy it.
Star anise: all the properties of this exceptional plant
Star anise has incredible digestive properties. It helps a lot in case of difficulties in the gastro-intestinal system and is a panacea even against nausea, especially if these problems are of an anxious nature. Its carminative powers are known: it reduces the production of in fact gas in the intestine, relieving the problems of meteorism and aerophagia. It also works against loss of appetite.
Its diuretic properties help fight water retention as well as stomach heaviness and promote liver purification. Its perfume, then, can be an excellent ally against halitosis.
Star anise essential oil can be used on hair to stimulate growth and fight baldness. It is also very useful in case of head lice.
The active ingredient it contains, called "anethole" is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Not surprisingly, star anise can be considered a real natural antibiotic! In case of cough or bronchitis, its expectorant power helps eliminate mucus. It is useful against flu and colds, thanks to its antiviral power and antibacterial that makes it super-effective in fighting seasonal evils, just like these other foods that we recommend:
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It also seems that it has aphrodisiac properties and that it is very useful for mothers about to breastfeed: it would help to increase milk production ... seeing is believing!
Use in the kitchen: from herbal tea to recipes that use it
Star anise is generally purchased already dried and can be used in the kitchen as it is or ground. The main use made of it from the gastronomic point of view concerns the preparation of liqueurs: the perfume it adds is something unmistakable! It is used for example for Sambuca, Pastis, "Ouzo," Absinthe, Pernod, l "Anisette, Raki," Arrak, Mistrà and others.
Together with cinnamon, it is essential to prepare mulled wine, the alcoholic drink of the alpine tradition, perfect for the Christmas period .. Here is the recipe:
Anise is used in cooking, due to its sweet taste, for the preparation of flavored sugared almonds. In China it is one of the five spices that make up the famous aromatic blend called "The five Chinese spices" and also consists of cassia, nails carnation and fennel seeds.
In general, star anise is used very frequently in oriental cuisine, especially in meat recipes, such as duck and pork, or in some fillings. You would not think so, but it is even present in noodles! It is in fact the main ingredient. of the Vietnamese soup called "Pho", with rice noodles, beef bones, onions and oxtail.
The main use we can make of it in our everyday life, however, is to exploit it to prepare digestive herbal teas. Leaving it to soak in hot water, it is excellent for flavoring tea or any other herbal infusion. . It is perfect with lemon, ginger and honey to fight seasonal evils, or together with fennel, cardamom and cumin to eliminate intestinal gas!
Where can you buy it?
Star anise is not that difficult to find! You may not be able to find it in a normal supermarket, but certainly not lacking in organic or oriental supermarkets. For sure you can buy it in your favorite herbalist's shop, where you will certainly also find excellent purifying herbal teas that use it.
If you really have difficulty finding it, you can always search for it online. There are many retailers on the web, and in an instant the fantastic anise will be yours!