Anise is a member of the family of plants that includes carrots, caraway, cumin, dill, fennel, and cilantro. It has a strong licorice-like flavor and scent, and the essential oil is used to flavor licorice candy. Foods with licorice flavoring often contain anise and not any licorice at all.
The sweet fragrance of the anise fruit and its essential oil is due to to trans-anethole, making up to 90% of the oil. Other components of the taste and smell of anise include estragol (iso-anethole), anise aldehyde, anise alcohol, p-methoxy-acetophenone, pinene, limonene, and gamma-himachalene (2%).
The whole dried "fruit" or seed
Whole or ground fruits, although flavor is better if the fruits are stored whole and then ground just before use. Anise is used in French carrot dishes, East Indian curries, Hispanic stews, and Scandinavian breads. It balances the flavors of bay leaf and cinnamon. Anise is also used to flavor liqueurs such as ouzo, anisette, pastis, Pernod, Ricard, anesone, ojen, aguardiente, arrak, kabib, and raki.
The process of heating anise in baked goods releases compounds that act as very mild stimulants. The anethole released in grinding and baking slows the decay of the baked goods that otherwise might result from fungi or molds. Anise is also used to flavor many herbal medicines.
Herbs & Information provided by Mountain Rose Herbs. To learn more about them, visit their website MountainRoseHerbs.