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Anise Extract

The extract derived from the anise spice lends to some unique flavors in various dishes. The following sections will get into the details of its benefits and the dishes that it can be used in. Read on to find out more.
Tastessence Staff
Many of you, I'm sure, must have read in the ingredients of food recipes which require you to include anise extract in the making. It is not a very common ingredient and that is why most people might not have heard of it. This extract is derived from a spice called star anise or anise, and looks like a wooden flower with 6-8 petals. It is majorly used in flavoring items like cakes and cookies while baking or cooking.

This extract is especially famous for the strong, lingering, and slightly sweet licorice flavor (this is due to the anithole compound). It is quite strong and therefore, it only requires a small amount of addition at one time.

The Making

Anise extract is made through a process called absorption. Absorption involves extracting the flavors from either anise or star anise. Alcohol is needed as a solvent. One needs to use a high proof alcohol agent and then steep the aforementioned items in it. Let this mixture sit for about 4-5 months in a cool dark spot for all the flavors to be essentially brought out.

Benefits

Cooking and Baking
The main use of anise extract is made while cooking and baking. It is used as a food additive to release the flavors of the dish that it is put in, as well as to add to the flavoring of the dish by adding its distinct licorice type flavor. It therefore lends a more aromatic experience to the whole cuisine.

Due to its strong flavor, it is used in very small quantities for most of the dishes. The idea is to only release a hint of the flavor. It works really well when used in combination with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. It is especially used while making cookies.

Some of the dishes in which the extract is essentially used include the following.
  • Springerle and Pfeffernusse (Germany)
  • Pizzelle (Italy)
  • Picarones (Peru)
  • Biscotti
Liquor and Liqueurs
This extract is also used to lend a slight flavor to a select few alcoholic beverages like hard liquor and herbal liqueurs as well.

Some of these include:
  • Absinthe or Galliano liqueurs
  • French anisette
  • Greek ouzo
  • Taki
Side Effects

It is extremely important that the extract be used in a limited quantity mainly because of its strong flavor. This is important so that it only enhances the flavors of a dish, and does not override the flavors, thus spoiling the dish in the bargain. Other than this drawback, there are some other side effects that might also be seen.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Skin irritation, especially, if it is taken raw
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Digestion problems
Though there are several side effects of the extract that have been mentioned in the article, it is important to note that these are quite rare and do not make way if the extract is used in measured quantities. So rest assured, start using the extract and see if you like the flavor it lends to your dishes.