Small evergreen trees from southwestern China and northern Vietnam are the source of the star anise. The brown, firm fruits of this tree open out into the shape of a star when they are fully ripe. A medium-sized evergreen tree with a natural range of northeast Vietnam and southwest China is called Illicium verum.
Taste: The star-shaped pericarps of the fruit of I. verum are plucked just before ripening to produce a spice that goes by the names star anise, star anise seed, star aniseed, star of anise, Chinese star anise, or badian and has a flavour that is very similar to anise. Highly aromatic star anise oil is used in skin creams, toothpaste, mouthwash, soaps, and perfumery.
Harvesting: The star anise tree starts producing fruit in its sixth year and may keep doing so for the next 100 years. The spice is made from the tree’s 8-pointed star-shaped fruits, which are dried. Even though star anise and anise are botanically quite different, both plants have extremely comparable essential oils in their fruits, and their flavours are very similar.
Whole and ground star anise is available.
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