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Star Anis


Definition of Anis

Definition of Anis

There are two different species of plants carrying the name anise. One is called aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) and the other, star anise (Illicium verum).

The first of these (aniseed) is a plant growing to about 20 cm (8 inches) high, which in France is found in gardens in the Anjou region and in fields in the Drome. Its culture and harvesting demand very great care. The hard and dry seeds have a greenish-grey colour and are pear shaped. They are known for their aromatic sweet flavour.

The second (star anise) is the one which is so dear to the hearts of Master Anysetiers. It is a tree which grows more than 10 metres (33 feet) high. It was first known in southern Vietnam, whence it was taken all over the Far East which nowadays produces 98% of the world supply.

The seed heads are formed of eight to twelve hard segments, arranged in a symmetrical star shape. When these ripen, they open wide, to allow the large shiny mahogany-red oval seeds to appear and it is these seeds which are used.

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