Anise star is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant, an evergreen shrub. This plant is native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. Anise star has the similar name with another spice called anise, however both of these plants are unrelated. Anise star has a shaped like star with six to eight points, with each of this point containing a single seed and have a reddish brown colour. This spice has a licorice-like flavor and aroma, making this spice is commonly used in baking and hot beverages. Anise star is widely used in many asian cuisine, this spice usually used as anise substitute in baking because they share the same anethole. This spice is popular because it is one of the main ingredients in Chinese five spice powder, and Garam masala in India. Anise star is also used for drug purposes as the major source of shikimic acid chemical compounds, fragrant oil, perfumery, and toiletries products.
Anise star is harvested from its tree by mechanically or by shaking its tree. Harvested anise star is then dried in the sun until they turn into deep reddish brown colour. After that dried anise star is cleaned by removing the stalk, leaves, other extraneous matter, and even the broken bits. After anise star is cleaned and sorted, anise star can be immediately packaged in seal moisture proof packaging, or stored in airtight containers for three to five years.
The application of anise star is mainly for culinary uses and medicinal uses. This spice is used in popular culinary products, garam masala and chinese five spice powder. Anise star could also be used in pastry, hot beverages, and other dishes such as biryani from India, and phở a Vietnamese noodle soup. This spice is the major source of shikimic acid, chemical compounds used in the synthesis of oseltamivir. Anise star is also used in the industry of fragrant oil, perfumery, and toiletries products.
The main criterion for grading anise star is through its size. The best anise star have 2.5 cm diameter, while the second best have lesser diameter. Based on ISO 11178, the requirements for anise star is:
Colour : brownish red or reddish brown
Odour and flavour : characteristic odour with aromatic, sweet, anise-like flavour
Freedom from insects, moulds, etc : Free from living insects, practically free from moulds, dead insects, insect fragments, and rodent contamination visible to the naked eye
Extraneous matter : not more than 2% (m/m). The proportion of stalks not more than 3% (m/m)
Broken and abnormal fruits : fruits with fewer than five follicles are broken and thos with three or more underdeveloped follicles, abnormal, and underdeveloped. The proportion of broken and abnormal fruits should not be more than 25% (m/m)
Moisture content : not more than 10% (m/m)
Total ash : maximum 4% (m/m) on dry basis
Volatile oil : minimum 8% (m1/100g) on dry basis
Anise star is categorized as Spice based on its uses.