Star anise is an eight-pointed star releasing flavours of fennel and green anise. It was at one time so sought after, that Marco Polo kept where it came from a secret. Perfect for all your punches, mulled wines and flavoured rums, it will enliven your stocks, chutneys, fruit compotes and cordials.
Chinese star anise or badian comes from the eight-pointed star-shaped pericarp of the fruit of the Illicium verum tree grown in four Chinese provinces: Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. Its Chinese name "Badjiao" literally means "Eight horns". In China, this spice is traditionally used whole in infusions or ground and used in the traditional Chinese 5-spice mix.
Star anise or Chinese fennel was introduced to Europe by Marco Polo in the 14th century. It was difficult to obtain in the Middle Ages. It was very sought after and very expensive. It was not until the Renaissance when it was imported by the English that it became widely used throughout Europe.
Star anise is harvested twice a year in China between April and October. All production stages are done entirely by hand and star anise is then dried in the sun.
Star anise has a stronger aniseed flavour than green anise. It can be used whole, ground or cracked to flavour infusions, teas, sauces, stocks and marinades. Grate it over your desserts, grilled beef, pan-fried vegetables and fish to add a hint of creativity to your dishes!