The Plant
Licorice -- Taste-a-Likes


(Pimpinella anisum), annual herb of the parsley family (Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae), cultivated chiefly for its fruits, called aniseed, the flavour of which resembles that of licorice. Anise seed has a sweet, licorice-like flavor and is a slow-growing annual herb of the parsley family. The seed, planted in early spring, produces a plant that grows to a height of about three feet. Star anise is the hard, star-shaped seed pod of a small tree that grows in southwestern China. It is also known as Chinese anise or whole anise. It is similar in flavour and fragrance to common anise seed but is more robust and licorice-like. Star anise is an essential ingredient of five spice powder and, like cinnamon bark, is widely used in braised dishes to which it imparts a rich taste and fragrance. Star anise has been popular in Europe since the early 1600s.

Though the anise seed has an unmistakable licorice flavor, it is not related to the European plant whose roots are the source of true licorice. Turkey, Spain, and Egypt are sources of anise seed.

Aniseed is widely used to flavour pastries; it is the characteristic ingredient of a German bread called Anisbrod. The essential oil is used to flavour absinthe, anisette, and Pernod liqueurs.


Fennel is a bright green/cream striped seed which has its origins in China. Its flavour and aroma are licorice like. Fennel has many uses from savoury breads to curries and spicy meat recipes. It is known for its ability to aid digestion of oily meats and fish.


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