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Best known for flavouring liqueurs such as anisette, ouzo, absinthe and sambuca. Cultivated since 1500 BC in Greece and the Middle East for its distinctive sweet licorice flavour, anise is an annual that requires a long hot summer to bring the seeds to maturity. The plant grows to almost a meter (3ft) in rich, well-drained soil, bearing white flowers in umbels that attract butterflies. As a companion plant it does well with coriander, and is protective against aphids. Anise seed has traditionally been valued for its ability to calm nervous stomachs and aid digestion, and is also thought to be helpful with chronic coughs. Ground seed is used in confectionary goods including
. Fresh chopped leaves are appealing in soups, stews, sauces and salads. According to Medieval herbologists, anise is an aphrodisiac, and the seeds have been found to contain estrogenic compounds. Drinks containing oil of anise remain transparent until water is added, causing the oil to "bloom" in a milky white or pale green clouds called a louche. Absinthe is the most famous anise-flavoured drink, and during the 19th century it was the favourite drink of Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Wilde.
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Copyright © 1997-2023 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.