Food - Drink
Star Anise Vs. Anise: What's The Difference?
By NATASHA BAILEY
Spices were once used by ancient civilizations for medicinal and ritualistic purposes, but today, we mainly use them in food and drink. Two spices that have been used for centuries by various civilizations are star anise and anise, and despite their near-identical names, these powerful plants are very different from one another.
Anise is native to Egypt, and even though we often refer to this spice as "anise seeds," these seeds are actually fruits with a dark, licorice-like flavor, perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Anise is rich in iron, antioxidants, manganese, and can even aid with depression, stomach ulcers, and symptoms of menopause.
Star anise, on the other hand, has been determined to have origins around China and Vietnam, and has a sweet, peppery licorice flavor that pairs well with savory dishes. It’s very popular in various Asian cuisines, often used in herbal teas, cocktails, and slow-cooked meats, and pairs well with clove and standard anise.
Beyond differences in flavor, the anise plant is biologically a member of the Apiaceae family (the same family as carrots, celery, and parsley), while star anise is actually harvested from the Asian evergreen tree. You can swap these spices for one another using a ratio of 1 whole star anise pod for every ½ teaspoon of anise seeds.