Growing and Using Anise

Growing and Using Anise
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Anise, Pimpinella anisum, came to the United States in the 18th Century. Each settler was instructed to bring with them six anise seeds to plant when they arrived. Herbs and spices are so common place today, that we forget just how treasured they were in the past! Anise was used as a breath freshener and in bedroom sachets. It's also lovely in the garden, which is a bonus. Anise is related to parsley and grows to be about 2 foot tall. Small cream colored flowers appear in midsummer, and by fall the seeds will be dried. Anise does need very warm summers in order for the seeds to ripen. They need around 100 days from sowing to when they will ripen.
If you are growing from seed be sure to use fresh seed from a good source; it is slow growing. Anise does not transplant well, so plan to leave it where it grows. It needs a light, but fairly rich soil, and full sun. Unlike many herbs, it does need regular watering, and will need to be kept clear of weeds. The leaves can be used when they are mature in salads, breads, stews and soups. For tea use 2-3 tablespoons of fresh leaves to 3 cups of water.

Anise seedheads should be collected when they begin to change color. Hang them in a warm, dry place until dried, then store the seeds in a jar away from heat and sunlight, as with other spices.

The seeds can be used in breads and pastries, fruit salads, or sprinkled on seafood appetizers. When cooking fruit compotes add some of the seed to the syrup as it cooks, or sprinkle on the top of fruit pies before baking instead of cinnamon. Try adding some anise seed to cream cheese or cottage cheese too. You can also make your own anise seed oil that can be used much like an extract in baked goods. Simply combine about a tablespoon of anise seed in a clean bottle with about a half of a cup of vegetable oil, and let it rest in the refrigerator for a week or so before using.

Anise Cookie Shapes


1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour

2 tsp. aniseed, crushed

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

Cream and butter and sugar until light. Blend in egg and molasses. Sift together flour, aniseed, baking soda, powder and salt.; stir into creamed mixture. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours. On lightly floured board, roll chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes. Note: This makes great Halloween cookies when frosted and decorated, or use small cookie cutters to make a tiny tea cookie. Just dust with confectioners' sugar when warm or melt white chocolate and drizzle onto the cooled cookies.

Anise Potato Bread


2 pounds potatoes

1/2 cup hot milk

1/2 ounce dried yeast

3 pounds flour (about 6 cups)

1 tsp. salt

2 tablespoons aniseed

Cook the potatoes, peel and mash with the hot milk over low heat until it resembles a batter. Dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup of water, let stand until foamy. When the batter has cooled to room temperature mix in the yeast, flour, salt and 1 tablespoon aniseed. Knead well and allow to rise in a warm place for about 4 hours. Put into greased loaf pans, sprinkle with remaining aniseed on the top of dough. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until done.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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