Anise is responsible for much of the licorice flavouring in bakery goods, liqueurs, teas and chewing gum. Also known as aniseed, it is an aromatic annual with stalked, toothed leaves. The slender flowering stems bear compound umbrels of white flowers followed by ridged grey seeds. Plant in enriched, light, well-drained and fairly neutral soil. Sow the seeds directly in spring. It is important that the plants are kept free of weeds. Anise repels aphids and attracts wasps. Cut anise when the seeds are fully developed. Tie bunches inside paper bags and hang them upside-down to dry and harvest the seeds. Harvest the leaves as required. You will have to dig up the roots in autumn.
Anise seeds and oil are used throughout Europe in drinks such as pastis, ouzo and raki. I have had much experience with these – drink in moderation! Use the seeds whole or crushed, but for the best flavour, grind them when you need them. Add to tomato based dishes, vegetable and seafood dishes, curries, pickles, soups and stews. Add a few young leaves to salads, fruit and cooked vegetables.
information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs