L'anice it is a plant of action digestive, useful as a cough remedy and excellent for flavoring sweets and liqueurs. Let's find out better.
With the name of anise three plants are indicated that belong to different families but are united by flavor and aroma.
The anise arrived from the East in ancient times and immediately became a spice much appreciated by both the Greeks and the Romans.
Of the anise plant dried seeds or small fruits are used.
The plants indicated by the name anise are:
- L'green anise (Pimpinella anisum): it is a plant of the Apiaceae family and is the most aniseed widespread in the West. Its flowers are light yellow and the small, oval seeds are brown in color with lighter streaks. Its flavor is very close to that of fennel.
- L'star anise (Illicium verum): comes from China and belongs to the Illiciaceae family. The name derives from the star shape of the fruits but this plant is also known as "Siberian anise"(as introduced into Europe via Russia),"Chinese star anise" is "Badiana". The taste is very similar to that of licorice plant enough to be replaced in some recipes.
- L'peppery anise (Xanthoxylum piperitium): plant of the Rutaceae family native to China, Korea and Japan. Its seeds have a very spicy and aromatic taste.
The best known effect of anise is that digestive, already appreciated by the Romans who used it at the end of the most demanding banquets.
Anise is also carminative and antispasmodic, for this reason it is used for digestive and anti-swelling herbal teas and infusions.
It favors the relaxation and is often found in anti-cough medicines.
Anise is also stimulant and in ancient times it was considered a powerful aphrodisiac capable of awakening sexual ardor and fighting impotence.
If taken as a natural remedy to treat ailments, a doctor should be consulted: high doses of anise can be toxic.
100 g of anise contains 337 kcal, e:
- 17,6 g protein
- G carbohydrates 50,02
- 15,9 g fat
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Dietary fiber 14,6 g
- Sodium 16 mg
The anise flavor is pleasant, balsamic and delicate, which is why it is very suitable for flavoring bread, desserts e pastries.
In addition to the confectionery preparations anise is used on cheese and on vegetables in Northern Europe, while in the East and in some areas of the Mediterranean it is often combined with meat.
In China, the anise of the "star" type, is the basis of many recipes and aromatizes meats such as duck, pork and chicken.
In the country this spice belongs in particular to the Marche tradition: anise is at the base of the liqueurs that go to flavor various desserts, including the famous biscuits known as "anicetti".
With anise they are prepared liqueurs and digestives with an aromatic scent likeAnisetta and Sambuca.
In France, liqueurs with anise essence are called Pastis: their origin dates back to 1905 when the distilleries had to find a drink to replace Absinthe, banned because it was too strong.
In ancient Rome, anise was, together with must and cheese, the ingredient of a sweet baked in bay leaves that we could define the ancestor of wedding cakes: the mustaceum.
This dessert was also the inspiration of a proverb of the time which said: "loreolam in mustace quaerere", or "to search in vain for bay leaves in the mustaceum" (probably burned in the oven!).
In the past, anise was not only used for its digestive effect: there were many properties attributed to it.
Pliny the Elder advised sleeping with some anise seeds under the pillow to fight insomnia and ward off nightmares, Hippocrates recommended anise for facilitate the elimination of mucus and in the English courts it was used for perfume clothes.
Anise is one of the spices that make up a blend known as the "5 Chinese spices". The others are fennel, cloves, cinnamon and pepper.
A legend has it that this mixture of spices (used for meats and marinades) is actually the result of the attempt to create a Magic powder that recalled the 5 fundamental Chinese elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) and the 5 basic flavors (acid, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty).
The properties, uses and contraindications of anise essential oil
Other articles on anise:
> Anise among the ingredients of deflating herbal teas