Star anise is, as the name suggests, a star-shaped spice that consists of the fruit pod and the seeds. The fresh, light green fruit has a diameter of approximately 3.5 cm and has about eight compartments or follicles. Each consists of a single-seamed carpel, which opens on one side only, and contains one shiny, brown seed.
The fruit is picked when it is dark brown, before it has fully ripened, to prevent the seeds from falling off. After drying, the carpel appears lignified and extremely hard.
The fruits come from the true anise tree or Illicium verum, a ten to twenty meter high tree with shiny, leathery leaves. It blooms twice a year. Our star anise comes from the mountainous and relatively cool Lang Son in Vietnam, the tree's natural habitat.
It bears fruit from March to April and from August to September. There are two harvests per year, each taking three to four months because the fruits must be picked manually once they have ripened sufficiently.
The star anise is harvested from the fifth year onwards. During its productive life, the tree produces increasingly higher yields and the quality of the star anise also increases. Trees that are twenty to thirty years old produce the best star anise.
Our star anise is grown and exploited naturally, without the use of chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides.
A piece of history
Star anise came from China via India to the Arab world, where it has acquired a place in Persian cuisine. It was only introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century. Europe was introduced to star anise thanks to Thomas Cavendish, who brought the fruit from the Philippines to England in 1578. It would be a while before the first star anise could be bought there. In 1601 the first dried star anise was for sale in London.
Soon after, star anise was imported from China via the tea routes through Russia. This is why star anise got its nickname Siberian cardamom.
Nowadays, China and Vietnam are the main producing countries, but star anise is also grownwd in Laos, Korea, Japan and the Philippines.
The Chinese name ba jiao 八角 means octagonal herb, which is exactly what it is, but in European languages the shape, taste and country of origin are often combined. The also common name 'badian' is taken from the Persian badiyan, which is said to be taken from the Chinese name ba jiao.
The botanical name Illicium is derived from Latin. Ilicere means allure and is a reference to the rich taste.Smell and taste
Both the carpels and the seeds are aromatic, the carpel is more aromatic than the seeds. There is no reason to remove the seeds unless you have the specific purpose of intensifying the flavor of a single fruit.
Due to the high content of trans-anethole, star anise has a strong, sweet aniseed taste. Pure anethole is more than ten times sweeter than sugar. Star anise contains no sugars. Our Lang son star anise contains over 70% essential oil, of which no less than 95-98% trans-anethole. You experience this immediately when the fruit absorbs moisture and releases its full aromas.
In addition to trans-anethole, the essential oil in star anise contains estragole (anise aroma) and limonene (orange aroma), both about 2%, and traces of α-pinene, p-cymene, eugenol, linalool , camphene and β-myrcene.
Common (Spanish) anise (Pimpinella anisum), just like star anise, contains trans-anethole, and therefore has a similar taste, but generally milder. Anise is not related to star anise. the same applies to fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), which also contains trans-anethole.
Star anise is inextricably linked to Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, star anise plays only a modest role; it is hardly used in Indonesian cuisine, and in fact not used in Thai cuisine.
The star anise fruit is ground or used whole, as in red boiling, a Chinese cooking technique. When the whole fruits are used, they are removed after preparation, such as in the preparation of mulled wine and stewed pears.
The flavor palette of star anise is very similar to that of licorice and common anise, and combines well with tomato and basil.
Star anise is used in Italian liqueurs such as Galliano and Sambuca, in Absinthe and in the French Pastis, and in the following spice blends:
- thirteen spice (5-spice) (China)
- five-spice (China)
- garam masala (India)
- 100% dried fruits of the Illicium verum
- origin: Lang Son, Vietnam
- available in glass and stand-up pouch (no test tubes)
- glass jar contains 45 grams
- stand-up pouches with a capacity of up to 30 to 300 grams
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift packaging, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the gift packaging section
- Feel free to grind star anise in advance, but keep in mind that it will quickly lose its aromas, the shelf life of ground star anise is only a few months
- store your star anise in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before September 2025 (09/25)
- this expiration date is an indication