With its warm licorice flavour, star anise is a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Taking its name from its star shape, it is available as whole spice and ground spice. It goes well with a range of ingredients, including citrus, onions, chicken, beef, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. It is often used in spice mixes and, when used in moderation, can be ideal to create warm, flavoursome meals. This spice is often used in meat dishes as well as curries, soups, stews, and various other savoury dishes. It is also used in desserts, cakes and other sweet dishes. Both whole and ground star anise provide all the flavour of this potent spice. Choosing between the two will come down to the dishes you are making.
How do ground and whole star anise differ and when should you use each type? Let’s take a look to see how each compares.
Like most ground spices, the flavour is more subtle. The ground version is great for baked dishes as well as desserts, sauces, curries, and other dishes. If you are using additional spices, the powdered version will blend in more easily without overpowering other spices. It is best to buy smaller amounts of ground spice and make sure that it is used quickly as it will start to lose its flavour fairly quickly. Storing any ground spices correctly is essential. Make sure that your spices are kept somewhere cool and dry, with no risk of humidity.
When used whole, the entire star aniseed pod is used and then removed at the end of cooking before serving. This spice is very pungent and should be used in moderation to avoid adding too much licorice flavour. You can use the whole version in soaps, stews, curries, and other dishes alongside bay leaves and other whole spices. Whole spices are made to use right away. You can also grind the whole spice to get the full flavour of this spice instead of using the pre-ground version that has a less potent flavour.
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