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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 2

Dear Folks,

Celebrating the Multicultural festivities of December, I thought I would pick an herb or spice which is referenced in the Bible (land of three of the Major Religions of the world) and used in many cuisines around the entire world, as a way of gathering together all the wealth of diversity around us - in true celebration.

Day 2
Herb:   Anise

     (Pimpinella anisum) in the family
Apiaceae (carrot and parsley) native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia and shares some flavor characteristics with fennel, star anise, licorice, chervil and tarragon.

Although references to translations of the Bible speak of Anise - it is usually Dill which is referred to.  I am including it in this 25 Days posting, because the people of the Biblical lands would have known Anise through the Romans and Greeks.

Anise is used primarily in sweet foods like cookies, such as the popular German Pfeffernüsse around the holidays, it is used to flavor black jelly beans, and liquors such as Italian Sambuca and Greek Ouzo.  From Roman times (and probably earlier) the seeds were chewed for digestive relief.
     Its primary essential oil is Anethol, which is also found in other licorice tasting herbs such as fennel, tarragon and chervil. It also contains a minute amount of limonene (the lemon essential oil). Other essences account for its sweeter taste.
     The differing combinations of essential oils generally allow for different medicinal uses among similar flavored herbs. Medicinally, Anise is used to make herbal expectorant cough syrups.
      Seed Cakes (a type of sweet batter quick bread) in Old England would have contained anise seeds along with other aromatic seeds.

     This annual, like its relatives, is a cool weather plant in the Valley.  Because of its taproot, it does not transplant well, so it would be best to seed in intervals for a sustained crop.  While many people are accustomed to using the seeds, the plant will take almost all winter to form seed heads. The leaves can be used in cooking well before that.  You can plant every 2 weeks through the end of December/January to harvest seeds for use this coming spring, and keep for baking time.


George Strait -- Christmas Cookies

The Carpenters - There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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