Anise is a plant that originally grew in the Mediterranean region and southwest Asia. Commonly sought after for its delicate fragrance and licorice-like flavor, the plant's uses range from culinary and medical, to purposes of Beauty. In the culinary realm, the plant and its oils are used for dishes from around the globe, including foods from England, New Zealand, Norway and Peru. Medicinally, Anise is known for containing anethole, a phytoestrogen (natural non-steroidal plant compounds that have the ability to cause estrogenic and/or antiestrogenic effects). The plant is also a mild antiparasatic and can sometimes be used to relieve menstrual cramping. Anise is even used as fishing bait and sometimes as a flavoring agent for various spirits and liquors!
With so many uses for the plant, you'd be wise to keep a bottle of the heart and soul of the plant--the oil--around the house for whenever you might need it.
The following is a guide to making your own anise oil: a crucial ingredient in an array of dishes, drinks and healing tinctures.
Items you'll need before making the anise oil: A tool to grind or crush the seeds (such as a mortar and pestle), glass jar, cheesecloth to strain, dried anise seeds and almond oil.
Without totally crushing the anise into a fine powder, use the mortar and pestle to press the seeds enough to discharge the oils and scents.
Fill the glass jar with enough ground anise seed so it is almost completely full.
Now you can pour the almond oil into the jar, submerging the anise completely.
Insure that the jar is tightly closed to prevent any spilling. Set the jar and its contents in a location with plenty of sunlight. Leave the jar in that location for at least two weeks--although you can leave it out for up to four to insure that the sun's heat releases all the oils from the anise.
Using the cheesecloth, drain the oil to remove the anise seed and any remnants.
You can now store the anise oil in a fresh bottle or jar until you're ready to use it!
Did you know that aniseed oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to treat colds and flu?
And according to first century writer, naturalist and philosopher, Pliny the Elder, anise was used as a pick-me-up for daytime sleepiness, as a breath freshener, and as a remedy for scorpion stings when mixed with wine!