Star Anise Basics
This member of the parsley family dates back to at least 1500 B.C. For centuries, the seed was used to help with digestion. In India it was eaten after a meal to aid not only in digestion but also act as a breath freshener.
Star anise is the fruit of a small oriental tree. Its shape resembles a star with an average of 8 boat-shaped points. The points are actually seed pods which are hard-skinned and brownish-red in color. The anise seed (found inside the pods) has a greenish-brown color. Star anise is picked before it ripens and is then dried. It has a unique, sweet licorice flavor. You can find star anise whole or ground into a reddish-brown powder.