Fennel same as anise


Spice Hacks: Best Fennel Seed Substitute?

Fennel is a flowering plant related to parsley. The root and stalk are used as vegetables, but the seed is commonly used as a spice. Fennel seeds have been used in many different kinds of dishes, or even to freshen the breath after lunch or dinner. This spice is prevalent in Italian and French cooking, but also used in Indian and African cuisines. Fennel seed is also used in Chinese five-spice powder.

The flavor of this spice is described as sweet and mild, akin to licorice or anise. They are oval in appearance and greenish to yellow-brown in color. They are also used in many pasta sauces, pork dishes, and sausages.

Fennel Seed Substitutes

Anise Seeds

Despite coming from entirely different plants, anise and fennel have a very similar flavor profile and are even mistaken for each other. Take note that anise seeds are smaller and more pungent than fennel seeds. When using this spice as a substitute, use equal amounts as to what your recipe calls for. This can be used whole or ground.

Licorice Root

Since Licorice has a similar flavor to fennel, it makes a good substitute for both fennel and anise. This ingredient can be used in sweet and savory dishes. Take note that licorice root is an actual root so you may need to steep this in liquid as you would with tea and use that to flavor your dish. Some may also use licorice powder. When using powder as a substitute, use half a teaspoon for every teaspoon that your recipe calls for.

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Fennel Vs Anise: What’s The Difference Between Anise And Fennel

If you’re a cook who loves the flavor of black licorice, you no doubt commonly use fennel and/or anise seed in your culinary masterpieces. Many cooks use them interchangeably and may find them under either or both names in some grocers. But are anise and fennel the same? If there is a difference between anise and fennel, what is it?

Are Anise and Fennel the Same?

While both fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and anise (Pimpinella anisum) are native to the Mediterranean and both are from the same family, Apiaceae, there is, indeed, a difference. Sure, they both have a licorice flavor profile similar to tarragon or star anise (no relation to P. anisum), but they are completely different plants.

Fennel vs. Anise

Anise is an annual and fennel is a perennial. They both are used for their licorice flavor, which comes from the essential oil called anethole found in their seeds. As mentioned, many cooks use them fairly interchangeably, but there really is a difference in taste when it comes to fennel vs. anise.

Anise seed is the more pungent of the two. It is often used in Chinese five spice powder and Indian panch phoran and imparts a heavier licorice flavor than fennel. Fennel also has a licorice flavor, but one that is less sweet and not as intense. If you use fennel seed in a recipe that calls for the use of anise, you just may need to use a little more of it to get the correct flavor profile.

Other Anise and Fennel Differences

Fennel seeds come from a bulbing plant (Florence fennel) that is eaten as a vegetable. In fact, the entirety of the plant, seed, fronds, greens and bulb are edible. Anise seed comes from a bush that is grown specifically for the seed; no other part of the plant is eaten. So, the difference between anise and fennel is actually pretty major.

That said, are anise and fennel differences enough to clarify the use of one or the other; that is, using fennel or anise in a recipe? Well, it really depends on the cook and the cuisine. If you are cooking and the recipe calls for greens or bulb, the clear choice is fennel.

Anise is the better option for sweets such as biscotti or pizzelle. Fennel, with its milder licorice flavor, also has a slightly woody flavor and, thus, works well in marinara sauce and other savory dishes. Anise seed, just to confuse the issue, is an entirely different spice, albeit with a licorice essence that comes from an evergreen tree and features prominently in many Asian cuisines.

I came across a recipe the other day that called for a bunch of anise and I realized that I didn’t know what a bunch of anise actually looked like. My only experience with anise was adding it in its powdered form to biscotti. I took a trip to the grocery store to see if I could find anise among the herbs, when I spotted a sign marked “anise/fennel” hanging above the bulbous vegetable I had been familiar with for years. In my Italian-American family, slices of raw fennel were always present at the holiday dinner table as a palate cleanser between our numerous courses. We called it finuke, which I now know was slang for finocchio or Florence fennel, the white, bulbous plant that most of us think of as fennel. But were fennel and anise one and the same?

No, although in the U.S. they are often marketed as such, as they were in my supermarket. While anise and fennel both have a licorice-like flavor, they come from different plants. You’ll often find anise in seed form, either whole or ground, while you can buy fennel as a seed, leaves, or as the aforementioned finocchio, whose fronds, greens and bulb are all edible. (Another form of anise, star anise, is unrelated.)

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While raw fennel bulb adds a delightful crunch to salad, it’s equally delicious sautéed, as in this recipe from Maria Zoitas, the chef behind the yummy prepared foods at Westside Market in New York City. I also like that this recipe calls for entire bunches of herbs, since I usually end up throwing out herbs that have gone bad before I’ve had a chance to use them. This salad is great with grilled fish, though the quinoa provides enough protein to make for a standalone meal.


Spinach Quinoa Mediterraneo

  • 3 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch fennel, bulbous part only, chopped (click here for a tutorial on chopping fennel)
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 6 cups water

In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, saute onion, scallions, fennel, salt, pepper and herbs in olive oil over medium heat until the onion and fennel begin to soften. Add water and cook for five minutes. Add quinoa, cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats atMade By Michelle.

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  • Video: Get a superfood kick with kale chips

Fennel Seed Vs. Anise Seed: SPICEography Showdown

Fennel seeds and anise seeds are two very similar spices that many cooks use interchangeably, especially in Italian and Indian cooking. They are similar enough to be confused with each other—some cooks refer to fennel seeds as anise and vice versa. If you are going to make certain classic European dishes (especially Italian dishes), you are going to need one or the other. To make an informed decision, you need to know how they differ and where you can make substitutions. We cover those things in this edition of SPICEography Showdown – fennel seed vs. anise seed.

How do fennel seed and anise seed differ in flavor?

Fennel seed and anise seed are enough alike that some people consider them the same thing. Of course, this is incorrect. They come from two different plants; however, both plants do belong to the same Apiaceae family. Fennel seed comes from a bulb that can be eaten as a vegetable or used as an herb, while anise seed comes from comes from a bush with no other parts that are used for culinary purposes aside from the seed. Note also that true anise seed is different from the star anise, which is an entirely different spice popular for use in Asian cooking and that comes from an evergreen tree. Both fennel and anise seeds are sources of an essential oil called anethole, which is responsible for their flavors as well as the flavors of other spices like the aforementioned star anise and herbs like tarragon. Both seeds provide the same licorice-like flavor notes, but the flavor of anise seed is the more pungent of the two options.

Can you use one in place of the other?

They can be effective substitutes for each other in many, if not most applications; however, they are different enough that you should still make the effort to get the one that your recipe requires. Many spice substitution formulas suggest that they can be used as 1:1 substitutes. Anise seed is both confused for fennel seed and used in place of it in spice blends like Chinese five-spice powder and Indian panch phoran as well as in the mix of spices used to flavor Italian sausage. It provides the same licorice notes but they are a little more pungent, which means that you may need to use less of it. Fennel seed provides the licorice flavor with a little less sweetness, and not quite as much intensity. More of it may be required to get the desired flavor profile.

When should you use anise seed and when should you use fennel seed?

While they are often interchangeable, using one as a substitute for the other is not always ideal. True anise seed (as opposed to star anise) is delicate and sweeter so that it is more at home in sweet dishes, candies and liqueurs than fennel seed would be. For example, anise seed is the best option for two Italian favorites: biscotti and pizzelle. Fennel seed can be used as a substitute in those baked goods, but it is not ideal. The flavor of fennel seed is a little more delicate and a little woodier than the flavor of anise seed, which means that it works better in the background as a supporting flavor note that accentuates and enhances other spices. Fennel seed is better for marinara sauces and other savory dishes that contain multiple spices where it will show up, but not dominate the way anise seed would.

The Spice Box – Getting To Know Fennel Seeds


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Getting to Know Fennel Seeds is part of a monthly series here on FBC called The Spice Box. Primarily written by Michelle Peters Jones, these articles create a spice primer for new and experienced home cooks alike!

Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel seeds are often confused with the more common cumin, anise and caraway seeds, but have a very different flavour profile. This spice, however, is very popular in a lot of cuisines, including but not limited to Indian, South East Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Italian. Almost the entire fennel plant is edible, including the bulb, which is used as a vegetable. Fennel seeds are native to the Mediterranean coast, but are grown all over the world.

Flavour Profile of Fennel Seeds:

Fennel seeds start off green, turning to a greyish brown as they age. The freshest kind are pale green and are used for culinary uses. The seeds have a light, sweet, anise-like taste, very similar to licorice, and are usually used to add a warm fragrance to various dishes. Fennel is one of the ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder as well as in the Indian version called Panch Phoran. The seeds look very much like cumin but are slightly larger and greener, with ridges.

How to Grow Fennel:

Fennel and fennel seeds are surprisingly easy to grow. As it’s an invasive species, in some parts of the world it’s actually regarded as a weed. Fennel is a perennial and can be grown from seed. It requires full sun exposure, and you can harvest the bulbs for use as a salad or cooked vegetable. The feathery fronds are used as a tasty garnish. If you’re growing it for the seeds, the umbrella-like flowers (similar to dill) mature in late August when you can carefully snip the heads off and shake the seeds into a cloth. Fennel needs to be planted away from similar plants like parsley, dill and carrots, otherwise it will cross pollinate.

Culinary Uses of Fennel Seeds:

Fennel bulbs are great thinly sliced in salads (try a simple fennel and orange salad with an olive oil dressing), or can be roasted or braised. The flavour is mildly anise-like, and pairs well with roast meats. Fennel seeds, as mentioned above, are an important part of spice mixes. Like all spices, fennel seeds benefit from dry roasting before use, especially if using them ground. In South Asia, they’re chewed raw with sugar cubes to freshen the mouth and aid digestion after meals. Fennel seeds are also an important component of masala chai spices. You could also try them in my mom’s recipe for fennel and anise spice chicken. Store the seeds in an airtight container, away from direct heat and light. Whole seeds can be stored for about two years. Discard them when they lose their pale green colour and begin to go grey.

Non-culinary Uses of Fennel Seeds:

Fennel seeds are most commonly used as a digestif and are often used to treat gastric problems, bloating and heartburn. Fennel bulbs are nutritionally high in potassium, Vitamins A and C and calcium, and are also a good source of dietary fibre. Fennel oil is used as a fragrance enhancer in cosmetics and soaps. Fennel is also one of the three spices that is used to make the alcohol Absinthe.

Fennel Trivia:

And finally, did you know that fennel is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and spices in the world? Ancient Romans chewed fennel before battles as they believed it gave them courage. Roman ladies used it as a means to stop getting fat and in the Middle Ages, people chewed fennel to stop embarrassing tummy rumblings during religious services.

Fennel and Ginger Tea Recipe:

Try this simple fennel and ginger tea as a digestive after a heavy meal.

Fennel and Ginger Tea Cook time 20 mins Total time 20 mins Author: Michelle Peters Jones Recipe type: Beverage Serves: 4 Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • Honey, or sugar, to taste


  1. Combine the crushed fennel seeds, ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil hard for about 2 – 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the tea steep for 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. Strain, discarding the solids. Reheat and serve with honey or sugar to taste.


What have you created with Fennel? Leave a link to a recipe on your blog in the comments so everyone can check them out!

Have a spice you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comments.

For more Spice Box profiles, check out Exploring Cassia Bark, Discovering Black Pepper or the whole Spice Box lineup.

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Are caraway seeds and fennel seeds the same?

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Anise Seed Stock Photos and Images

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  • Old, wooden background and star anise seeds
  • Star Anise Pods
  • Star anise on dark wood table
  • Coffee Beans with Cinnamon Sticks and Chinese Star Anise on Metal Plate.
  • Cinnamon, clove and anise star on kitchen table.
  • Brown anise star, seed on white background
  • Anise star. Winter
  • raw organic fennel Seed Ready to Use
  • Anise on a wooden background. Badyan.
  • Star anise seed on white background
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  • Aroma Spice Star anise on black back ground with copy space
  • Mix of spices nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom
  • Hot Cup of Coffee with Spices – Cinnamon Star Anise and Nutmeg
  • Star shaped anise seeds on a white background
  • Anise Stars , Healthy Aromatic Condiment
  • Star anise seed on white background.
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  • Hibiscus,pink pepper,cardamon to make Gin tonic
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  • raw organic fennel Seed Ready to Use
  • Elegant ingredient for different dishes.
  • Single star anise seed on white background
  • Indian cooking spices pattern. Flat lay photography from above
  • Star anise on black table. Selective focus. Copy space
  • Assortment of spices and coffee beans in wooden box
  • Dried star anise on a sackcloth
  • Star anise on a white background
  • Anise Stars , Healthy Aromatic Condiment
  • Star Anise and Spices coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon on black background with copy space
  • Macro shot to anise with chocolate
  • Anise seeds
  • Mulled wine ingredients spices. Anise and cinnamon on stone table. Top view
  • Assorted Spices in Bowls 1
  • Star anise, glass jar of dark wood table
  • Background of Star Anise Fruits and Seeds. Vertical Orientation.
  • Vanilla, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and anise star on old wooden table.
  • Anise seed
  • traditional christmas spices – star anise, cloves and cinnamon bark sticks – on a wooden table
  • raw organic fennel Seed Ready to Use
  • A badge on a wooden background. Approach for beautiful dishes.
  • Dried star anise seeds
  • star anise on a black background.
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  • Oriental sweets, dried fruit dates and raisins, cinnamon and star anise in a plate. Turkish tea in glasses on a wooden background
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  • Milk chocolate, coffee beans and anise
  • Indian spices on wooden background
  • Mulled wine ingredients spices. Anise, cardamom on stone table. Top view
  • Assorted Spices in Bowls 2
  • Star anise, glass jar of dark wood table
  • Close Up Background of Star Anise Fruits and Seeds.
  • Cinnamon sticks and anise stars in wooden bowl.
  • Star Anise in a Chinese bowl on a wooden table top
  • Anise
  • raw organic fennel Seed Ready to Use
  • Anis stellate on a wooden background.Badyan.
  • Chinese star anise seed isolated over the white background.
  • star anise on a black background.
  • Star Anise Seed Pod on White Background
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  • Dried star anise on a sackcloth
  • anise tree seeds as spices on a white background
  • Dried anise seeds taken closeup suitable as food background.
  • Star Anise and Spices coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon on black background with copy space
  • The milk chocolate, coffee beans and anise
  • Star Anise on a black wood background
  • Mulled wine ingredients spices. Anise, cinnamon, cardamom on stone table. Top view
  • Assorted Spices in Bowls 3
  • Star anise, glass jar of dark wood table
  • Jar of Star Anise. High Angle View through the Bottleneck.
  • Cinnamon sticks and anise stars on old wooden table.
  • Star Anise on a wooden table top
  • Anise
  • raw organic fennel Seed Ready to Use
  • Elegant starry anise on a black background.
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  • Star anise seeds, aromatic spices on a dark food photography style
  • Oriental sweets, dried fruit dates and raisins, cinnamon and star anise in a plate. Turkish tea in glasses on a wooden background
  • Dried star anise on a wooden surface
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  • Hibiscus,pink pepper,cardamon to make Gin tonic
  • Star Anise and Spices coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon on black background with copy space
  • Roasted coffee beans with anise
  • Fragrant spices, coffee and chocolate sweets on a dark striped background
  • Anise, cinnamon, orange and nut on old stone table. Christmas spices. Top view
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  • Star anise, glass jar of dark wood table
  • Jar of Star Anise Fruits and Seeds on Wooden Table. Copy Space on the Right.
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Search Results for Anise Seed Stock Photos and Images

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Aniseed is an herbaceous annual flowering plant native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asian region. It belongs to the family Apiaceae. It has a licorice-like flavor and has been used for its medicinal properties since the ancient times. The seeds are used as whole, power and essential oil. It was used by the Greeks, Egyptians and the Romans during the Biblical times.

Aniseed Scientific Name

The scientific name for aniseed is Pimpinella anisum.

Aniseed Other Names

Aniseed is also called Anise, Anisum, Anisum vulgare, Anisi fructus, and sweet cumin.

Aniseed Description

Aniseed is an annual flowering plant. It grows up to a height of about 18 inches to 2 feet. The plant has various types of leaves from feathery to heart-shaped, round, serrate and petiolated. They are broader at the base and become narrower and thinner at the tip. The creamy white flowers, approximately 3mm in diameter, are clustered together along a long stalk. The fruit of the plant is covered with short hairs, it is an inch long and dull brown in color.

Picture 1 – Aniseed

Aniseed History

Aniseed is one of the oldest spice plant used for medicinal and culinary purposes. It is indigenous to the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia. It has been used since the ancient times for its carminative properties. It is evident that the aniseeds were used by the Arabs, Greeks, and Egyptians. It was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C; the seed is known to have been cultivated in Tuscany during the Roman times. The cultivation of Aniseed spread across central Europe during the middle Ages.

Aniseed Distribution

Aniseed is native to the Mediterranean areas, Middle East and southwest parts of Asia. It has spread across Southwestern USA and Mexico.

Aniseed Cultivation

Aniseeds are a slow growing plant and require a sunny, well drained soil which is light and fertile. The plant has taproots and do not work well with transplantation, therefore, they need to be planted at the advance of the spring (April or May) either at their permanent location or transplanted when the plant is young. The plant flowers after 3 months of planting and it takes another month for the seeds to ripen.

Aniseed Harvesting, Propagation and Storage

The seeds are ready for harvest when the seeds turn grey green. Cut the plant and hang it upside down with a bag to collect the seeds. They should be dried in a well ventilated place. Once the seeds are dry, they need to be stored in an airtight container as they lose their flavor soon. If stored properly, they retain their flavor for at least 2 years.

Parts of the Plant Used

The seeds and the young leaves of the plant are used.

Aniseed Culinary uses

Aniseed has a sweet aroma with licorice-like flavor. Dry-frying the seed heightens the flavor. The seeds are used in a variety of ways in different regions. They are grounded, made into a paste or used whole.

  • Europeans uses the seed to flavor cakes, breads, biscuits and confectionaries.
  • In India and Middle East, the seeds are used in breads and desserts.
  • It is used as a flavor while making fish, soups, poultry and root vegetable dishes.
  • The young leaves of the aniseed plant are used to garnish salads and soups.
  • It is eaten as after meal digestives in India.
  • Aniseed is used as a flavoring in making herbal tea.

Aniseed Liquor

Aniseeds are used to flavor liqueurs and other spirits. Anethole is the compound responsible for the favor and is called the ouzo effects. List of aniseed flavored liquors are given below:

  • Middle Eastern Arak
  • French spirits anisette, pastis and absinthe
  • Columbian aguardiente
  • Bulgarian mastika
  • Italian sambuca
  • German jagermeister
  • Spanish anis
  • Turkish raki
  • Mexican Xtabentun

Aniseed Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits

Aniseed’s medicinal uses has been referred in the famous papyruses of Ebbers, it was the first treaties on medicinal plants. This plant has been used as a medicinal herb, food and spice. The seed as well as its oil has been used for some of promoting health and preventing diseases.

Picture 2 – Aniseed Picture

  • It helps in cases of asthma and bronchitis cough.
  • The seeds contain plant derive chemical compounds that have anti-oxidant properties. It is a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
  • It is beneficial in digestive disorders like colicky stomach pain, flatulence, bloating, indigestion and nausea.
  • The aniseed water is used for the treatment of running nose of the infants.
  • The seeds are chewed as a breath freshener after meals.
  • The essential oil of the aniseed contains 75 to 90% anethole that has estrogenic effect.
  • It is also known to be beneficial in the breast-milk production in mothers.
  • Externally, the aniseed tea wrapped in a warm cloth can be used as a compress for eye pain.
  • Aniseed when taken with warm milk at night helps in preventing insomnia.
  • The aniseeds are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamin.
  • The anise seeds are a good source of iron, calcium, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium and magnesium.
  • They are beneficial in the treatment of menstrual cramps.
  • The essential oil is used as an insecticide for head-lice and mites.

Aniseed Composition

The chemical composition varies with the cultivation method and the origin of the seed. The chemical compositions are as follows:

  • Moisture: 9 to 13%
  • Protein: 18%
  • Fatty Oil: 8 to 23%
  • Essential oil: 2 to 7%
  • Sugars: 3.5%
  • Starch: 5%
  • Crude Fiber: 12 to 25%
  • Ash: 6 to 10%

Aniseed Nutritional Information

One tablespoon of aniseeds contain

  • Potassium: 30mg]
  • Calcium: 14mg
  • Phosphorus: 9mg
  • Iron: 0.7mg

Aniseed Essential Oil

Extracted from the seeds of the Pimpinella anisum herb, this spicy essential oil has a pungent liquorice-like smell. It is also called anise and sweet cumin oil. The oil is extracted by steam distilling the seeds. Aniseed has antiseptic, carminative, antispasmodic, diuretic, stimulant, expectorant, stomachic, laxative, galactagogue and parasiticide properties. Some of the uses and properties of the aniseed oil are as follows:

  • Aniseed oil is used in liqueurs and cordials.
  • The oil is used in toothpaste and mouthwash.
  • The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. It helps to boost the lungs, gives relief from headache and migraines.
  • The oil is a natural asthma remedy.
  • Aniseed oil is beneficial for the treatment of muscular pain.
  • It is helpful in the treatment of rheumatism, whooping cough, bronchitis, cramp, colic, indigestion and hangovers.
  • The oil is a tonic to the respiratory track and circulatory system.

Aniseed Side Effects

Like any other herb, consult a qualified physician before taking aniseed medically.

Overdose of aniseed oil can cause vomiting, seizures and pulmonary edema. Pure anise oil when used externally can cause skin irritation to some, therefore, it is diluted. The seed or the oil can be allergic to few, swelling of the skin, rashes on skin or the tongue, difficulty in breathing, skin irritation or tightening feeling on the chest are some of the indications of an allergy. Aniseed should not be used during pregnancy.

Aniseed Interesting Facts

  • The Egyptians and the Greeks used the aniseed oil to flavor alcohol and confectionaries.
  • Aniseeds were prescribed by the Chinese physicians and the Indian Ayurvedic practitioners for treatment of digestion problems, bronchitis, insomnia and cancer.
  • Roman author and scientist Pliny the Elder states that it was used for treatment of scorpion sting, insomnia and to freshen breath during the ancient roman times.

Aniseed Pictures

Here are some of the pictures of this herb.

Picture 3 – Aniseed Image

Picture 4 – Aniseed Photo


Anise seed nutrition facts

Selection and storage

Dried as well as ground anise powder can be readily available in the spice market year-round. Choose anise seeds from organic herb stores for purity and authenticity. Buy them in small quantities so that they would last for 3-4 months since they lose their flavor due to evaporation of essential oils. Fresh seeds should feature bright olive-green to grey-brown color and give rich aroma when rubbed between index and thumb fingers. Avoid seeds that have broken tips or those of old stocks as they deprived of essential oils and, therefore, inferior in quality.

At home, store anise in airtight containers; place in cool, dark place. Ground powdered anise should be kept in airtight containers and used as early as possible since it loses its flavor rather quickly.

Star anise, on the other hand, has a longer shelf life. Ground star anise should be stored in an airtight container, away from sunlight.

Medicinal use

Anise seed as well its oil found application in many traditional medicines for their unique health promoting and disease preventing roles.

  • Anise preparations are an excellent remedy for asthma, bronchitis cough as well as digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion.

  • The essential oil “anethole” (anise seeds comprises 75 – 90%) has been found to have the estrogenic effect. The decoction obtained from the seeds often prescribed in the nursing mothers to promotebreast-milk production.

  • Anise seed water is very helpful in relieving running nose condition in infants.

  • Its seeds chewed after the meal in India and Pakistan to refresh post-meal mouth breath. (Medical disclaimer).

Culinary uses

Anise seeds, its oil as well as fresh young leaves used in cooking. The flavor may be heightened by gentle toasting the seeds. Its seeds feature sweet, aromatic flavor. They employed in a variety of savory and sweet dishes. The whole seeds, and often freshly ground powder can be added to the recipes at the last moment to limit the evaporation of essential volatile oils in them.

  • This delicate spice used as a flavoring base for soups, sauces, bread, cakes, biscuits and in the confectionary.

  • Popular aniseed flavor drinks include prenod, French pastis, Spanish ojen, etc.

  • Anise seeds, as well as its oil, has been in use in the preparation of sweet dishes in many Asian countries.

  • Its seeds also used as a flavoring base for the preparation of herbal tea; and a liquor called anisette.

  • Star anise (ba jiao) is one of the most important spices in Chinese cuisine, and indeed, is the dominant flavor in Chinese five-spice powder along with cloves, cinnamon, Hua jiao (Sichuan pepper) and ground fennel seeds.

<<-Read on Star anise nutritonal facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Spices from Anise-seed. Visit here for an impressive list of healthy spices with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

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Further reading:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database. (opens in new window)

  2. Gernot-Katzer’s spice pages. (Opens in new window)/p>

Both the plants and the seeds look awfully alike. Let’s find out the difference between fennel and anise.


  • Fennel: a plant, Foeniculum vulgare, of the parsley family, having feathery leaves and umbels of small, yellow flowers; also, fennel seed, the aromatic fruits of this plant, used in cookery and medicine.
  • Anise: a Mediterranean plant, Pimpenella anisum, of the parsley family, having loose umbrels of small yellowish-white flowers that yield aniseed.


  • Aniseed: the aromatic seed of anise, the oil of which (anise oil, aniseed oil, oil of anise) is used in the manufacture of anehtole, in medicine as a carminative and expectorant, and in cookery and liqueurs for its licoricelike flavor.

As we can see right away, both fennel and anise belong to the parsley family, also known as the Apiaceae family. Both plants are related to licorice, tarragon, carrots, celery, caraway, and others.

The main difference between the two, is that fennel is more so considered to be a vegetable, while anise is a spice – this is because more of the fennel plant is edible than the anise plant.

The anise plant’s seeds are typically the only part of the plant that is consumed. With fennel, the seeds, leaves, stems, and bulbs can all be enjoyed.

Let’s begin with fennel.

The fennel plant is subdivided into two categories: Florence fennel and sweet (or common) fennel. Florence fennel is grown for its bulbs and is eaten as a vegetable. Sweet fennel is used for its herb-like leaves and seeds.

Florence fennel is crunchy, and just a tiny bit sweet. The bulb can be eaten raw in a salad, or it can be grilled, braised, etc. When cooked, the bulbs are similar to leeks, although milder and less onion-like.

The fronds of sweet fennel can be chopped and used as a garnish, while the stems can add flavor to broths or sauces.

Fennel seeds are typically used to flavor sausage and pork dishes. They’re also a great addition to certain breads, stews, or pasta sauces. Fennel have that faint licorice-like taste to them.

Medicinally, fennel seeds and the bulb are used as an anti-inflammatory, to treat stomachaches, or as a diuretic.

With anise, the seed, or aniseed, is used to give a kick to baked goods or other desserts; it is also frequently found in alcoholic beverages, such as sambuca. Like fennel, anise has a slight licorice feel to it.

Medicinally, anise is consumed to treat coughs, excessive gas, and it is used as a breath freshener.

The anise plant can grow to 18 inches tall and has small clusters of white flowers. Comparatively, the fennel plant can grow quite tall, up to five feet, and when it goes to seed the flowers are yellow.

Some people make think of the star anise when they hear of the spice – also called Chinese anise – but this is actually from a different plant family.

In conclusion, fennel and anise are closely related, and look similar in their “vegetable” form. However, anise is almost always used only for the seeds, as a spice. Fennel can be used as both a spice and a vegetable.

According to World’s Healthiest Foods, anise plants have frequently been mislabeled as fennel. If you see an vegetable-like anise plant for sale, it’s likely to actually be fennel.

Both fennel and anise seeds have a sharp, sweet taste reminiscent to licorice, and both can be used for medicinal purposes.

Eat Good Food

From left to right: Bronze fennel, anise hyssop, flowering chervil, and French tarragon.

Anise-scented herbs are generally easy to grow, and fresh-from-the-garden herbs add flavor and fragrance to foods.

Anise is a common component in a variety of different herbs. The intensity of flavor varies so much from plant to plant, however, that even those who don’t care for the stronger licorice taste of fennel might enjoy sweeter anise or mild chervils.

Although all members of this grouping are used for culinary purposes, the part of the plant that is utilized is not always the same. For example, it is common to use the seeds of anise and fennel, the leaves of all varieties, the stalks of fennel, the flowers of anise hyssop, and the roots of fennel.

Most of these herbs are also valued for their ornamental additions to gardens. Read on for tips on how to cultivate these versatile and aromatic herbs in the garden, and ideas on how to use anise-scented herbs in the kitchen.

ANISE (Pimpinella anisum) is the common anise, a delicate annual that grows from 1 1/2 to 2 feet high.

Two types of leaves grow on the same plant — bright green oval ones with toothed edges at the base and a smaller, more feathery, elongated type on the stems.

Because anise has a taproot, it does not transplant well once established, so be certain to plant it where it is to remain. Tiny white flowers grow in umbrella-like clusters at the top of the stems. The plants like light, fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. Anise may be started from either seeds or small plants. Water regularly. The leaves may be cut as soon as the plants are large enough.

Gather the seeds when they ripen and change color from green to brown, then dry and store in tight containers. The home gardener can expect a harvest of 1 to 2 tablespoons of seed from each plant.

ANISE HYSSOP (Agastache foeniculum) is also known as licorice mint. A perennial, it may be grown from seeds, small plants, or divisions of the creeping root.

Anise hyssop grows up to 3 feet in height and likes moist, slightly acidic soil rich in organic soil and full sun. The gray-green leaves have toothed edges and whitish undersides.

The leaves of anise hyssop are a nice ingredient in fruit salads or tisanes, a wonderful way to infuse creme anglaise and ice cream, and a flavorful addition to simple syrups for sweetening beverages such as lemonade or tea. Overall, the fragrance is similar to French tarragon, but slightly sweeter, with a hint of basil.

Harvest leaves early in the day during a sunny, rain-free spell close to when the plants will be flowering, then dry the leaves and store them in glass jars.

For a refreshing tisane (herbal tea), fill a tea strainer with several sprigs of fresh anise hyssop and mint, washed and removed from stems. Pour boiling water into mug and let steep for at least ten minutes, adding honey if desired.

CHERVIL (Anthriscus cerefolium) is an annual that grows from 1 to 2 feet high and, because of its tap root, is not easily transplanted. Grow it from seed or small plants, starting in cool, moist soil during winter or part shade in late spring and fall.

Chervil plants prefer semi-shade and may be trained as an edging or grown in containers. In areas where summers are hot, chervil does best in part or full shade, although the combination of heat and shade seems to render the plants weak and susceptible to spider mite infestation. Water regularly.

Pinching off most of the flowers will prolong growth of the leaves, but leave a few and the plant will reseed itself.

Sometimes referred to as the gourmet’s parsley, chervil is a key ingredient in Béarnaise sauce and in fines herbes blends with parsley, chives, and tarragon.

Similar to parsley, chervil’s leaves may be used in soups, salads, sauces and herb butters. The small white flowers have a similar but milder flavor than the leaves and can be used as a garnish in lighter dishes, salads, and even with fruit.

Chervil also makes a good addition to vinaigrettes or marinades, and is a classic ingredient in a mesclun salad mix.

FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare) is similar in appearance to dill and may grow up to 6 feet tall. The light-green leaves are finely divided into threadlike segments on tall, round, hollow stems. At the top are flat clusters of yellow flowers. Fennel provides food for the vividly striped caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly.

Fennel may be grown from seed or small plants. It thrives in light, well-drained soil and full sun. Once established, fennel is fairly drought resistant and reseeds itself readily.

The flavor of fennel is similar to anise, though more full and earthy, sweet and herbaceous. Use the feathery leaves in soups, stews, salads, and marinades.

When using the stems, they should be cut while still tender and just before flowers form. Braise and serve as a vegetable or prepare and use in the same way as celery.

The bright yellow flowers can be used as a garnish on salads, such braised meats as lamb, and other dishes.

FENNEL SEEDS are a popular flavoring for breads, spiced beets, and sauerkraut. To collect the seeds, dry the crop under shade for four or five days to preserve the green color, then beat it to release the fruits.

Store dried seed in labeled jars out of direct sunlight until the next growing season. The essential oil of fennel seeds is also used for flavoring foods, confections, and liqueurs such as anisette and absinthe.

TARRAGON Although there are several varieties, FRENCH TARRAGON (Artemisia dracunculus) is the preferred culinary species of this herb. French tarragon doesn’t produce fertile seeds, so must be started from small plants or root divisions.

It does best in fast-draining soil and partial sun, but also grows well in containers and hanging baskets. Do not overwater or the plants may develop root rot. Frequent cutting, especially in summer, and a mulch of sand and gravel will lessen disease problems.

Tarragon goes dormant in the winter. Even if plants turn brown over the winter, they will more than likely regenerate themselves in the spring.

When harvesting French tarragon, snip the tips, but be sure to leave about 3 inches growth to keep plants vigorous.

Like chervil, tarragon is a key ingredient in fines herbes blends. Its smooth, slender, dark-green leaves are pointed at the ends and have a mild anise scent and flavor.

Fresh tarragon has far greater flavor than dried. The best way to preserve tarragon is in vinegar, which captures and holds its essence. Leaves may be used to flavor salad dressings, sauces, butters, and soups.

RUSSIAN TARRAGON (Artemisia dracunculoids) looks almost identical to the French, but has a much milder, grassy flavor. Growing to 3 or 4 feet tall, it has gray-green foliage and blue-purple flower spikes.

MEXICAN TARRAGON (Tagetes lucida) is also called Anise Scented Marigold or Yerbanais. It grows about 1 ½ feet tall and has toothed leaves and single orange-gold flowers. This variety may be grown from seed and does well in high temperatures. Keep the moisture constant to prevent wilting from water stress.

Brooke Medlin is an Ohio horticulturist with experience growing both edible and ornamental plants. She really likes anise and is a fan of the plant’s medicinal and culinary benefits. She also loves its decorative value in the garden. “The plants grow to about 2 feet tall with graceful white umbels and fern-like leaves. I have grown it in the past and am growing it again this year — it’s a great plant!”

What is Anise?

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) or aniseed is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae (parsley) family known for its distinctive licorice flavor.

It is a common ingredient in cooking and natural medicines. Crushing the seeds releases its oils and licorice scent, making it a favorite fragrance in soaps, creams, and perfumes.

How to Plant Anise

“Anise is happiest in a sandy loam that is moderately rich in nutrients but will grow in most well-worked soils that are not clay heavy,” says Medlin. She notes that since it is an annual that requires a long season to set seed (around 100 days), it is optimal to direct seed anise in full sun as soon as possible after the last frost date.

Related Post: Herb Gardening 101

She suggests planting the seeds no more than a one-half inch deep and 6 inches apart with two seeds per hole. The seeds will usually germinate within 7 to 14 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Found a huge patch of wild Anise in the woods this afternoon. #homestead #homesteader #homesteadinglife #forage #wildedibles #offgrid #offgridlife #offgridliving #anise #herbs #foraging

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It’s important to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Monitor the plants as they start to get established and water them regularly to make sure they do not get waterlogged. “Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings.”

Related Post: How to Start Transplants

Tip: While many seeds remain viable for years if stored properly, anise seeds deteriorate after two years. Be sure your seed is fresh.

How to Harvest Anise

Medlin suggests that you begin harvesting anise seeds when the tips turn gray. You can then store the seeds in a glass spice jar or another type of airtight container.

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Harvested #aniseseed this afternoon

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Tip: Collect anise seeds by hanging the seed heads on their stems upside down inside a paper bag. Secure the paper bag around the stems and the bag will catch the seeds.

The Medicinal Benefits

“Anise is often used in herbal remedies (both for its medicinal value and its ability to mask unpleasant flavors) as it is safe for adults, children, and babies when given in the appropriate dose,” says Rachel Miller, chief herbalist and co-founder of Zhi Herbals.

Noting that anise seed is a potent carminative herb, Miller says it can be taken after meals to relieve gas and bloating. Occasionally, small amounts of anise tea may be used to ease colic in infants.

Miller also notes that the terpenes found in anise seed act as a powerful expectorant. It’s antibacterial and mild muscle relaxing properties make it great to clear excess mucus and reduce coughing during a cold. “It is especially suited for hard and dry coughs,” she says.

Note: When heated, anise releases compounds that may provide a mild stimulant effect for some people.

How to Use Anise in Cooking

Anise is an essential ingredient in dishes and recipes the world over, and it imparts a distinctly sweet, black licorice-like flavor to food. While the stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds are all edible, the seeds are the most widely used. You can also use the leaves in teas.

In Baked Goods

Anise, primarily in the form of anise seed, is best known for imparting a licorice flavor to baked goods.

  • It is an essential ingredient in a wide array of traditional baked goods from Easter Bread to Crescent Christmas Cookies.
  • It’s a classic component of mildly sweet baked goods like Toasted Anise-Seed Cake Slices and Tozzetti (anise, almond, and hazelnut Biscotti).
  • Adding it to traditional baked goods can put a fresh spin on an old recipe, such as in this Pumpkin Tart with Anise-Seed Crust.
  • If you’re in the mood for something savory, Anise Seed Flatbreads may hit the spot.

To Spice up a Rub or Marinade

Anise can add a burst of flavor to marinades and rubs. An anise seed rub or brine is perfect for grilled pork.

To Spice up Your Cocktails or Mocktails

For a start, anise is used to flavor liquors from around the world, and making homemade spirits is a common use.

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  • Although most commercial producers in Italy strenuously guard their recipe for sambuca, you can try this homemade sambuca recipe for a close approximation.
  • Anisette is a clear, sweet licorice-flavored liqueur. This homemade anisette recipe uses brandy as a base.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, use this recipe to make homemade amaro, a bittersweet Italian digestif.

In “The Drinker’s Guide to Growing Windowsill Herbs,” Kate Silver considers homegrown anise an essential herb for upgrading your cocktails. “With a pronounced licorice flavor, anise hyssop, which is in the mint family, imparts an absinthe-like taste to a drink.”

  • Try it fresh with bourbon and muddled summer peaches.
  • Try it in place of mint in this mint julep twist, a Wild Ruffian.
  • Simple syrup infused with anise seed and cardamom adds depth and sweetness to a Spice Trade — a genever and persimmon cocktail.

Curious if you can …

  • Use anise seed in place of star anise? The answer is yes, although star anise possesses a richer, sharper flavor.
  • Substitute anise seed for fennel seed? Many people use them interchangeably. Fennel seeds are larger and coarser in texture with a woodier flavor. Anise seeds are smaller with a slightly sweeter, more delicate fragrance.

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