Star anise is a spice made from the fruit of the Chinese evergreen tree Illicium verum. As its name suggests, it is a star-shaped pod with seeds that are harvested and used as a spice as well. It has a distinct licorice flavour and smell with many medicinal benefits.
Some of the major health-promoting compounds found in star anise include:
- Shikimic acid
- Gallic acid
The shikimic acid found in Star Anise is a compound with strong antiviral capabilities. Shikimic Acid is actually one of the main ingredients found in a popular medication to treat flu, named Tamiflu. As the influenza pandemic continues to mount as a threat to global health, the demand for star anise is on the rise.
Flavonoid anethole, which is found in Star Anise, is responsible for the spice’s distinct flavour and offer potent antifungal benefits.
Another important medicinal benefit of star anise is its ability to inhibit bacterial growth implicated in a variety of common illnesses.
Some studies also suggest that that bioactive compounds in star anise may be effective in treating urinary tract infections caused by different bacteria.
Please note that more research needs to be done on Star Anise and its benefits.
COOKING WITH STAR ANISE
We recently made a delicious Star Anise cake – have a look at our Instagram and Facebook for the recipe.
Star Anise is found in spice blends like the Chinese “5 Spice” and Indian “Garam Masala“ which is very flavoursome. You can use Star Anise in savory dishes such as broths, soups and curries. You can also use Star anise in sweet dishes as well, such as baked fruit, pies, quick bread and muffins.
Remember a little goes a long way. Add a little at a time, and do a quick taste test as you go.
Try sprinkling powdered star anise into your next batch of muffins. Throw a couple of whole pods into your next pot of soup for a warming boost of flavor.
STAR ANISE TEA
Traditionally, Star Anise is used to make a tea used to treat respiratory infections, nausea, constipation and other digestive issues.
1. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a stove-top pan.2. Add 2 whole star anise pods per cup of water. If you want to be creative, add some cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, a little ginger, and even some cloves. 3. Steep for 15 minutes. 4. Strain away any large chunks and serve. Add honey to taste.