|Star anise fruits and seeds|
Illicium verum is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly called star anise, staranise, star anise seed, Chinese star anise, or badiane that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shaped pericarps of the fruit of I. verum which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams. About 90% of the world’s star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Star anise contains anethole, the same compound that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking, as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liqueur Galliano. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat.
It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup.
It is also used in the French recipe of mulled wine, called vin chaud (hot wine). If allowed to steep in coffee, it deepens and enriches the flavor. The pods can be used in this manner multiple times by the pot-full or cup, as the ease of extraction of the taste components increases with the permeation of hot water.
Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of the antiinfluenza drug, oseltamivir (Tamiflu). An industrial method for the production of shikimic acid using fermentation of E. coli bacteria was discovered in 2005, and applied in the 2009 swine flu outbreak to address Tamiflu shortages, also causing price increases for star anise as a raw material of shikimic acid. As of 2018, fermentation of E. coli was the manufacturing process of choice to produce shikimic acid for synthesis of Tamiflu.
Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible; in Japan, it has instead been burned as incense. Cases of illness, including “serious neurological effects, such as seizures”, reported after using star anise tea, may be a result of deliberate economically motivated adulteration with this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract, and digestive organs. The toxicity of I. anisatum, also known as shikimi, is caused by its potent neurotoxins anisatin, neoanisatin, and pseudoanisatin, which are noncompetitive antagonists of GABA receptors.
Standardization of its products and services
- Refer to the 4th edition of the European Pharmacopoeia (1153)
Differentiation from other species
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- Louisa Lim (18 May 2009). “Swine flu bumps up price of Chinese spice”. US National Public Radio.
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- “How to Grow Star Anise”. 28 October 2015.
- International Organization for Standardization. “ISO 676:1995 Spices and condiments — Botanical nomenclature”. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
- Joshi, Vaishali C.; Ragone, S; Bruck, IS; Bernstein, JN; Duchowny, M; Peña, BM (2005). “Rapid and easy identification of Illicium verum Hook. f. and its adulterant Illicium anisatum Linn. by fluorescent microscopy and gas chromatography”. Journal of AOAC International. 88 (3): 703–706. PMID 16001842. Retrieved 10 November 2007.
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- International Organization for Standardization. “ISO 11178:1995 Star anise (Illicium verum Hook. f.) — Specification”. Retrieved 8 June 2009.