Friday, June 15, 2012

History of star anise (Illicium verum)

Star anise is a spice that closely resembles anise, and this herb has a long tradition of use in Chinese medicine for colic and indigestion. Star anise is traditionally used in Japan as incense.

It has been used as spice and medicine for over 3000 years. According to traditional Chinese medicine, star anise which is considered pungent, sweet and warm disperses cold, warm the liver and kidneys, relieves pain regulate the qi and improves appetite.

It is a shrub indigenous to China and Japan; its fruit is used to flavor sweetmeats, confectionary and liquors.

Star anise was believed in Europe to originate from the Philippines, as in 1578 the navigator Thomas Cavendish brought the first fruits to Europe via the Philippines, although unaware they originated from southern China.

Clusius bought star anise fruits in London in 1601 and later they were traded to Europe along the tea route from China via Russia as ‘Siberian cardamoms’.

During 17th century star anise was substitute for aniseeds in commercial drinks.

Star anise is used occasionally in Persian and Mughal Indian biryani rice dishes and in succulent meat curries.
History of star anise (Illicium verum)