Anise Seeds (Pimpinella Anisum)
Anise, also called aniseed, is known for both its culinary and medicinal properties. The seeds have a pronounced licorice flavor and are slightly sweet. The flavor and aroma of its seeds have similarities with some other spices and herbs, such as star anise, fennel, licorice, and tarragon.
In Western cuisine, anise -not to be confused with star anise- is mostly used in bread, cookies, pastries, and cakes to add a light and unique flavor.
In savory recipes, it is used in much the same way as fennel to flavor fish, meat poultry, soups, stews, and root vegetable dishes.
It works particularly well in dishes that include eggs, cheese, and spinach, so try adding a bit of anise to your next omelet, lasagne, or pasta sauce.
Anise is also used to flavor many liqueurs such as the Greek ouzo and raki, absinthe, becherovka, and other herbal liqueurs.
Medicinally, it has been used to aid digestion and improve the appetite as well as to help with cramps, nausea, and flatulence. Anise seeds stimulate lactation, soothe colics and relieve cough and congestion. Use one teaspoon of crushed seeds per cup of boiling water to prepare an infusion. Allow the mixture to soak for 10 to 15 minutes before straining.
Externally, Anise tea can be wrapped in a warm cloth and used as a compress for eye pain. Try dropping a few seeds in a glass of warm milk before bed to prevent insomnia. Anise seeds can be chewed in the morning for an all-day natural mouth freshener.