Star anise is, as the name implies, a star-shaped spice that consists of the fruit box and the seeds. The fresh, light green fruit has a diameter of about 3.5 cm and has about eight compartments or follicles. Each consists of a carpel with a single seam, so that it opens only on one side, and contains one shiny, brown seed.
The fruit is picked when it is dark brown, before it is fully ripe, to prevent the seeds from falling off. After drying, the carpel appears lignified, very hard.
The fruits come from the real anise tree or Illicium verum, a tree ten to twenty meters high with glossy, leathery leaves. It blooms twice a year. Our star anise comes from the mountainous and relatively cool Lang Son in Vietnam, the natural habitat of the tree.
It produces fruits from March to April and from August to September. There are two harvests per year, each taking three to four months because the fruits have to be picked by hand once they are sufficiently ripe.
The star anise is harvested from the fifth year. During its productive life, the tree gives an increasingly higher yield and the quality of the star anise also increases. Trees twenty to thirty years old give the best star anise.
Our star anise is grown and exploited naturally, without the use of chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides.
A bit of history
Star anise has reached the Arab world from China via India, where it has acquired a place in Persian cuisine. It was not introduced to Europe until the sixteenth century. Europe was introduced to star anise thanks to Thomas Cavendish, who brought the fruits from the Philippines to England in 1578. It would take a while before the first star anise could also be bought there. In 1601, the first dried star anise was on sale in London.
Soon after that, star anise was imported from China via the tea routes through Russia. This is why the star anise has been nicknamed Siberian cardamom.
Today China and Vietnam are the main producing countries, but star anise is also grown in Laos, Korea, Japan and the Philippines.
The Chinese name ba jiao 八角 means octagonal herb, exactly what it is, but in European languages shape, taste and country of origin are often combined. The also occurring name 'badian' is derived from the Persian badiyan, which is said to have been derived 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.Odor and taste
Both carpels and seeds are aromatic, carpel is more aromatic than seeds. There's no reason to remove the seeds unless your specific goal is to intensify the flavor of a single fruit.
Due to the high trans-anethole content, star anise has a strong, sweet anise flavour. 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 make sure that immediately when the fruit absorbs moisture and releases its full aromas.
In addition to trans-anethole, the essential oil in star anise contains estragole (aniseed aroma) and limonene (orange aroma), both about 2%, and traces of α-pinene, p-cymene, eugenol, linalool , camphene and β-myrcene.
Ordinary (Spanish) anise (Pimpinella anisum) contains, like star anise, 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 a modest role, in Indonesian cuisine it is hardly used, in fact not in Thai cuisine.
The star anise fruit is ground or used whole, as in red cooking, a Chinese cooking technique. When the whole fruits are used, they are removed after preparation, as in the preparation of mulled wine and stewed pears.
The taste 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 Absinth and in the French Pastis, and in the following spice mixtures:
- thirteen spice (5-spice) (China)
- 5-spice (China)
- garam masala (India)
- 100% dried fruits of the Illicium verum
- origin: Lang Son, Vietnam
- available in glass and pouch (no test tubes)
- glass jar contains 45 grams
- stand-up pouches with a content of up to 30 to 300 grams
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift box, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the category gift packaging
- Feel free to grind star anise in advance, but keep in mind that it loses its aromas quickly, the shelf life of ground star anise is only a few months
- keep your star anise in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before September 2025 (09/25)
- this best before date is an indication