Star anise is a powerful culinary and medicinal spice that has been used for thousands of years and is rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Star anise contains potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is particularly good for treating the flu.
In fact, star anise contains a compound called shikimic acid which is used to make the common anti-viral drug Tamiflu.
Star anise is known to effectively remove mucus and congestion from the body due to its strong expectorant properties. It is also commonly used as a digestive aid and can help to relieve gas, constipation, cramping, bloating, heartburn, and indigestion.
Star Anise is highly beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, back pain, shingles, herpes, halitosis, and sinus infections.
It also has sedative properties and is helpful to take before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. Star anise is known to support the health of the female reproductive system and is often used by lactating mothers to increase the flow of breast milk.
Star anise has a flavor similar to that of licorice and cloves and is often used as a flavor enhancer to both sweet and savory meals including smoothies, deserts, soups, and stews. Star anise is an important spice in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysians cuisine and one of the ‘five’ in Five Spice.
Star anise tea is a wonderful and healing medicinal beverage that can significantly boost the immune system and help ward off any viral or bacterial infection. Do not over use as it can also become irritating to the throat. Seek proper instructions to use for healing.
Star anise oil can be found in creams and lotions as is an excellent topical remedy for insect bites, eczema, psoriasis, acne, scabies, and lice. It can be found in whole pod, powder, capsule, tea, extract, oil, and cream form online or at your local health food and grocery store.
This spice has a savory-sweet flavor to it, often compared to licorice with a slight cinnamon and clove taste. It has a large quantity of a chemical called anethole, which makes star anise 13 times sweeter than sugar. A little goes a long way.
Know your plants: Star anise is closely related to Japanese anise (Illicium anisatum), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9.
One important distinction between the two trees is that while star anise fruits are safe for human consumption, Japanese anise fruits are potentially toxic. Both bear star-shaped fruits that turn woody with age, however, Japanese anise is a smaller tree, generally growing 6 to 12 feet tall. The flowers are similar, but star anise flowers are more strongly scented. Distinguishing between the fruits of the two species in the absence of the trees that produced them may require laboratory analysis (gas chromatography).
Star Anise is a medium-sized evergreen tree of the magnolia family, and can get quite tall if not pruned (26 feet). This tree is mainly grown in greenhouses in containers because it cannot handle temperatures lower than 23 degrees Fahrenheit.
It will grow happily in containers and requires well-drained soil and partial shade. The tree can be propagated by seed, sowing seeds in the spring. It is also propagated by semi-ripe cuttings that are taken in the summer.
Star anise grows very slowly and may possibly take 15 years to produce fruit. However, once it starts producing fruit, you can usually get harvests from the tree 3 times a year and perhaps for over 100 years. The fruits are harvested before they ripen and then sun dried. The pod can be used in cooking but take out and not served as it is bitter. The seeds can be eaten or crushed in to power form for cooking.