If you have ever tasted both anise and licorice, you eventually understand why many people tend to confuse these two primarily because of their similarities in flavor.
However, regardless of their similarities in taste, they come from different plants.
They both have a unique aroma brought by the anethole compound, which exists in both these spices.
These spices are popular and have numerous health benefits, so they are some of the best spices in the culinary world.
Licorice is a root, while anise is seeds.
What is anise?
Anise is a plant from the parsley family and originates from the southern regions of Asia and the Mediterranean. The seeds and the oil are the most used parts of this plant and are usually used for culinary and herbal purposes.
Anise plant fruits are mainly used in the flavoring of specific European alcoholic drinks such as the ouzo and Sambuca. Ouzo is a popular Greek alcoholic drink that uses anise as one of the key ingredients because of its intense flavor.
Its aroma is often unique. This is why it is popular in the culinary and herbal worlds, provided it is used in minimal amounts. The leaves and the barks of the anise plant are commonly used as herbs.
Is anise and star anise the same thing?
The name might sound the same, but these two differ from one another. Star anise (illicium verum) has zero relations to anise (Pimpinella anisum) as they come from different plant families.
That said, they have the same compound anethole, which is a trademark feature for the anise. So you can use either of these seeds to extract the unique aroma and anise flavor.
Anise is popular in European, middle east, and Mediterranean cuisine, and it’s the primary source of this flavor. On the other hand, star anise is native to China and other regions of Southern Asia.
The production of star anise is simple, and most of the anise oil you find in the local markets comes from this seed.
Additionally, there are zero relations between anise and fennel, even though the plants have some similarities when you take a closer look. This is because they come from the same plant, but the variations come in the species.
The flavors are the same, but fennel is usually served as a vegetable while anise is used as a spice or herb.
How is anise used?
The uses for anise vary based on how you would love to use it. Whether you want to use it as an herb, spice, or base for beverages, the possibilities are limited only by your mind.
Anise adds a distinctive flavor to your dish that cannot be easily replaced. The aroma is often one of a kind which many people find delicious. It goes well with both sweet and savory dishes without eliminating the original taste of the food prepared.
Some people use them in the preparation of soups, and it comes out delicious. Recently, bakers have been adding this spice to their cookies, bread, and cakes. They are just as good, especially with the intense fresh aroma combined with cinnamon.
If you did not know or haven’t tried making tea using anise, you are missing one of the best-tasting teas. The good news is, making the tea doesn’t require any lengthy procedures as the number of ingredients is also minimal and readily available.
If you don’t love pure anise tea, you can throw anise seeds directly into your hot or cold cocoa tea or chai tea and get to enjoy the fresh aroma these seeds bring to your tea.
How does anise taste?
Anise spice does have a set of mixed flavors, all balanced and not overly pronounced. Generally, the taste of anise, fennel, licorice, and star anise are similar, and you might easily confuse one for another.
Black licorice has often been used as the flavor reference point for anise in candies. Anethole compound exists in star anise, anise, and fennels. This is the reason most people refer to the flavor of anise as the one from licorice.
Anise does have a sweet taste with citrus hints which does not exist in licorice. This taste is often more of a blend between licorice and fennel. The anethole compound in anise is slightly lesser than the one in licorice, but the aroma is similar and intense.
One feature of the anethole compound is it is highly soluble in alcohol, but it becomes slightly soluble when combined with water. This means if you add water in alcohol made using anise, it will turn the alcohol cloudy.
Cooking using anise
Anise seeds are versatile. You can use them as a whole or ground them and add them directly to your dough, stew, and soups. When you intend on using them for baking purposes, consider adding them before you knead the dough.
The extract from anise gives your dough a delicious aroma and to the final product being baked. Soups and salads also combine well with anise.
Anise has also been used as an after-dinner dessert drink because of the candy flavor it possesses. They also make an excellent addition to your coffee flavor, especially if you desire extra spice in your tea or coffee.
Ground anise is the most convenient way to use it. However, the seeds do stay fresh for more extended periods than the ground form. Ground anise is common because you can add it directly to the dish you are preparing.
Can you make your anise extract?
It is possible to make anise extract if you have just the right ingredients. All you need is vodka, a jar, and anise seeds, and you are as good as done. The procedure is straightforward, considering the number of ingredients needed is less than five.
Here’s the procedure;
- Clean the jar to prevent bacterial infections
- Add anise seeds to the jar (1 tbsp.)
- Add half a cup of vodka to the jar.
- Store the jar in a cool place for about 2-3 months
- Sieve the mixture on cheesecloth to sieve the unwanted seeds.
How do you make anise tea?
You can easily make a homemade version of the anise tea. The procedure is straightforward, but you need to be patient and careful not to use excess seeds or too many leaves as the tea might become bitter.
Here’s the procedure of making the tea;
- You need to measure 1-2 teaspoons of the seeds for each cup with freshly boiled water. It would be best to let the freshly boiled water cool so that when the herbs are added, they won’t lose their medicinal value.
- A leaf filter is also helpful if you have it, as you can place the leaf directly on the water and let it release its flavor slowly.
- The second last bit will be to add either milk or honey to the boiled water just for extra flavor. The robust flavor of anise gets quickly balanced with other spices added to the tea, such as cinnamon and ginger.
- Finally, let the tea brew for about 5 minutes before drinking it. This allows all the flavors to get released and blend perfectly.
Swallowing the leaves or ground anise in whole is essential in adding different nutrients to your body. In addition, anise fruits are safe for consumption. However, some people do have allergic reactions to these seeds because of the estrogen compounds.
This is a rare case as that would mean a person consumed heavy amounts of this tea which is not impossible, but the allergic reactions are not common.
What are the benefits of anise?
Anise is a vital seed both health-wise and in the culinary world. The anethole compound in this seeds is of crucial importance as it helps with menstrual and asthmatic problems.
These seeds contain high amounts of iron required by the body. It is recommended that you take about 13% of iron daily, which many do not unless prescribed by the doctor. Anise also helps in improving food digestion and lowers insomnia.
According to scientists, these seeds also help in the reduction of menopause and depression cases. This research is still in progress of getting verified.
The fact that it aids in improving digestion means you will rarely experience troubles with bloating as the waste in the system is taken out, clearing any issues with constipation and pains in the stomach. It also aids in weight loss thanks to the excellent digestion in the body.
What is licorice?
Contrary to what many people think, licorice is a root that has several controversies primarily because of its properties. It is native to several parts globally but often popular in Asia, the Middle East, and Southern regions of Europe.
The Chinese have long used this herb as a harmonizer when preparing herbal products and creating formulas. This makes the herbs palatable and soothing for your stomach.
The roots of licorice are often dried and used to prepare several dishes, mainly as a flavoring. Recently, they have been used as a critical ingredient in the making of licorice candies and snacks. For example, the black licorice candy is prepared using licorice.
Licorice and anise are not related as they come from different family plants. Licorice comes in several varieties, especially with the regions in which it is cultivated. American, Chinese, and European licorice varieties are slightly different.
Is there any relationship between black and red licorice?
There is absolutely no relationship between black and red licorice. The names might seem to be the same, but red licorice is no true licorice. Red licorice is candy prepared using several flavorings such as strawberry, cinnamon, and raspberry.
On the other hand, black licorice candy is true licorice, and the flavorings are mainly from the licorice root. However, candy companies have opted to use anise seeds in making these candies because they share the same flavorings.
Black licorice has some effects when consumed in large quantities, and you might want to tone down how much you consume. Too much consumption of black licorice leads to toxicity. When consumed in heavy amounts, it raises blood pressure, which is not safe, especially for pregnant women.
How is licorice used?
Licorice is versatile and can be used for both health and culinary purposes. In addition, it is used in the making of medicines. It works both in capsules or chewable medicines.
It also is harvested for its oil-like anise seeds. The oil is used in the preparation of a wide range of dishes, both savory and sweet. Its intense flavor blends well with pork meat and domesticated birds. It also goes well with other spices such as mint and ginger.
The leaves of licorice add extra flavor when you use it in your tea. It is also possible to chew the roots of licorice, but the problem with this is you cannot keep count of how much you have consumed.
Licorice is available both in-ground form or in its original woody nature. In local stores, you will find it in capsules or extracts. The extracts have long been used to make skin lotions which are essential in aiding skin injuries.
Ground licorice is more convenient and mostly available because of how easy it is to use it. Unfortunately, the woody licorice is not easy to find, but if you are in luck, you can soak it in sauces and water to extract the licorice flavor and use it to prepare dishes.
Is black licorice a laxative?
This depends on what compound was used in the making of the black licorice. For instance, black licorice made using anise seeds does not qualify to be a laxative because it will have zero effects. However, that changes when it is made using glycyrrhiza. The effects might be mild, but it becomes a laxative.
It is essential you consume black licorice as it is known to cause diseases such as congestive heart failure or fluid retention. This is why you will find that most foods sold in the restaurants are prepared using anise other than licorice.
Besides, the food might contain licorice, but the glycyrrhizin compound is removed from licorice to help reduce health-related issues.
You can avoid overeating black licorice by looking at the manufacturer’s product information to know the extent of licorice used.
Is it possible to substitute licorice for anise?
Though licorice and anise come from two different families, you can easily substitute one for another, and this is because of the taste profile.
However, that changes when your recipe calls for the dark black color and robust pungency. Replicating the black color using anise seeds is not possible. However, you can get the best of it for the flavor by increasing the amount of anise.
The flavor of anise, licorice, star anise, and fennel is usually the same as they contain the anethole compound. Anise and licorice are both available in ground form.
It might be hard to differentiate these two because of their many similarities, but it will be easy if you understand them well.