Anise is one of the oldest known spice seeds native to the eastern Mediterranean used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans since ancient times. In Egypt it was used as early as 1500 BC for perfumes and smelling salts. Ancient Greeks used it to prevent seizures. In first century Rome, anise was used to flavor food as well as in small after dinner spice cakes, mustaceum, to prevent indigestion. Such a cake was brought in at the end of a marriage feast and is perhaps the origin of the tradition of wedding cakes. Anise seed acquired economic value as well throughout Europe and the import tax on anise helped to pay for repairs to the London Bridge in England during the 14th century.
As a member of the parsley family along with dill, fennel, coriander, cumin and caraway, all of which have a licorice flavor to some extent, anise is distinguished by its strong licorice-like flavor and aroma. It is popular in many European confections such as Scandinavian breads, but is also popular in Indian curries and Middle Eastern stews. Anise may be used whole or crushed in cookies, rye breads, cottage cheese, cooked fruit dishes, stews, and fish or shellfish dishes. To add a special flavor and texture to baked goods, brush with beaten egg whites and sprinkle with anise seed before baking. Anise is also a notable flavoring in various alcoholic liqueurs and cordials such as pastis, Pernod, Ricard, ouzo, raki and anisette. All of the above-ground parts of the anise plant may be eaten as a vegetable, added to soups or used as a garnish plus the flowers can be minced into fruit salads. The lightly roasted seeds are commonly chewed after meals in parts of Europe, the Middle East and India to help with digestion and sweeten the breath. It is also often used for stomach aches, to promote iron absorption, to cure hiccups taken with water, and as a sedative tea. The scent of anise is the catnip for dogs and is often an ingredient in their food as well as to encourage hunting foxhounds and racing greyhounds, plus the oil makes excellent bait for fish and mousetraps!!
For the best flavor buy whole anise seeds
and crush them just before using.
If you don't have a spice grinder use a mortar and pestle
or just break them with a rolling pin.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 large egg (or 2 egg whites)
1/2tsp crushed anise seeds
1 cup rolled oats
Combine flour and baking powder; blend in margarine until mixture is light; beat in egg and anise seeds. Stir in oats until well blended. Divide dough
into eight sections. One at a time, roll each section into a 1/2 inch round “snake”. Cut into 2-inch sections and form into S’s or the letter of your choice, on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Store in a covered container or freeze.
SPICED APPLE JUICE
1 3" cinnamon stick
1/4tsp anise seed
1 quart apple juice
Combine all ingredients and simmer 30 minutes. Strain. Serve either warm in a mug with a cinnamon stick stirrer, or cold in a frosty glass.
2 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
2tsp baking powder
2tsp anise seed
1 c sliced almonds
2tsp vanilla extract
Combine dry ingredients in a food processor. Whisk together eggs and vanilla, then with the processor running slowly pour mixture into dry ingredients until it resembles wet sand. Divide dough in half, bring together and shape into a 12” log and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins. Cool 15 mins. then cut into ¼” diagonal slices and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake another 10-12 mins or until crisp and golden. Store in an airtight container.
“And God said, See I have given you every herb
that yields seed which is on the face of the earth. . . “