Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its licorice-like flavor. It is used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including British Aniseed balls, Australian Humbugs, New Zealand Aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German pfeffernusse and springerle, Netherland Muisjes, Norwegian knotts, and Peruvian Picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican “atole de anís” or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and taken as a digestive after meals in India.
Anise seeds are identified by their licorice flavor. Mainly grown in Turkey and Spain, anise seeds are used in cookies, cakes, and fruit cups and as a seasoning for chicken, duck and veal dishes.
7 Health Benefits and Uses of Anise Seed
Anise, also called aniseed or Pimpinella anisum, is a plant that hails from the same family as carrots, celery and parsley.
It can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) tall and produces flowers and a small white fruit known as anise seed.
Anise has a distinct, licorice-like taste and is often used to add flavor to desserts and drinks.
It’s also known for its powerful health-promoting properties and acts as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments.
Here are 7 benefits and uses of anise seed, backed by science.
Though anise seed is used in relatively small amounts, it packs a good amount of several important micronutrients into each serving.
In particular, anise seed is rich in iron, which is vital for the production of healthy blood cells in your body.
It also contains a small amount of maganese, a key mineral that acts as an antioxidant and is necessary for metabolism and development.
One tablespoon (7 grams) of anise seed provides approximately:
- Calories: 23
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Iron: 13% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Manganese: 7% of the RDI
- Calcium: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 3% of the RDI
- Potassium: 3% of the RDI
- Copper: 3% of the RDI
However, keep in mind that most recipes will likely call for less than a tablespoon.
Anise seed is low in calories but contains a good amount of several important minerals, including iron, manganese and calcium.
(More info from SimplyRecipes):
How to Cook and Bake with Anise Seed
There are many ways to cook with whole and ground anise seed—sweet and savory. The whole seeds add nuance to sauces and braises, as well as spice blends to use as a crust on meat, chicken, or fish. A favorite is the Egyptian spice blend dukkah, which combines cumin, coriander, fennel or anise seed, and sometimes other nuts and sesame seeds for a dynamic spice blend that you’ll want to sprinkle on everything. (See this recipe for Grilled Dukkah-Crusted Chicken with Lemon Hummus).
You can also mix in the seeds, raw or toasted, into ground meat when making sausage, as a flavoring in pickle brine, or even if you want to spice up meatballs or burger patties.
A note on toasting: Toasting all spices brings out their flavor and aroma. Toast over low-medium heat in a dry pan, and as soon as you start to smell the nutty aroma, remove from heat. Your recipes should call for either toasted or raw seeds, but if you’re unsure, go with toasted seeds for savory recipes and raw for sweeter recipes.
And speaking of the sweet stuff, for all its savory depth, anise seed is perhaps best known for flavoring desserts. Italian biscotti probably comes to mind immediately, but anise seed can also flavor other cookies, like German pfeffernüsse, pie dough, pie filling, and any manner of breads.
If adding to pie dough, add between 1/2 teaspoon to one tablespoon of seeds into the dry ingredients before forming the dough. Get creative with it and think of anise seed as a delicate but unmistakable way to add a sophisticated spin to whatever you’re baking. Grown-up Fig Newtons, anyone?