Star Anise look very attractive – but, boy, I regretted it the first time I followed a recipe and put several into a dish – the flavour was so strong. I now just break pieces off them and use them sparingly. Unlike many spices these little babies will stay ok for up to 5 years.
The bulk of the world's star anise is grown in China. It comes from a member of the magnolia family. I was interested to learn that the active ingredient in Tamiflu (the flu fighter) comes from star anise. The trees produce these fruits after 6 years but then can keep on producing for up to a century!
A basic spice in Chinese dishes. Is a main ingredient in 5 spice powder.
Star anise are actually quite sweet – sweeter than sugar!
Star anise goes well with duck or pork.
Try poaching rhubarb with a star anise. Try adding it to your mince mixture in cottage pie. I have seen a suggestion of adding a little ground star anise into a chocolate mousse – I can't quite imagine what this would be like.
BIBLIOGRAPHY - with thanks to Auckland Libraries
Cook's Encyclopaedia of Spices by Sallie Morris & Lesley Mackley
Discovering Vegetables, Herbs & Spices by Susanna Lyle
Spice Market by Jane Lawson
Spicery by Ian & Elizabeth Hemphill
Spices & Natural Flavourings by Jennifer Mulherin
Spices by Sophie Grigson
Spices Condiments and Seasonings by Kenneth T Farrell
Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen by Elizabeth DavidThe Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander