Anise and licorice are often lumped into the same category, and sometimes they're even used interchangeably. The funny thing is, they're very different.
Licorice and anise have a similar taste and fragrance, but they have their own identities beyond that. Licorice is a root (from the licorice plant), and anise is a fruit (from the anise herb plant). Anise is not related to licorice at all.
What is anise?
Anise is actually a seed that comes from a fruit. The anise seeds derive from the same family as parsley or celery. This family of plants grows abundantly in the U.S.
What is licorice?
Licorice is a root that comes from the bean, or legume, family. Licorice extract comes from the root and contains an acid called Glycyrrhizin. Experts say Glycyrrhizin is actually 50 times sweeter than sugar!
Did you know? Licorice root grows for 3-5 years from the time of planting before it's ready to harvest. The taproot can reach 4 feet deep during that time.
Do Anise and Licorice have the same taste?
Anise and licorice have a similar flavor and smell, but they do have differences in taste. Anise tends to be spicy and a little sweet. Licorice, on the other hand, can be bitter, salty, and even sour.
They smell similarly because they both have anethole, which is an organic flavoring compound. Anethole is also in star anise and fennel, which are also known to taste similar to licorice and anise.
What is Anise Commonly Used For?
Anise has often been used as a base for drinks, such as ginger beer and root beer. Anise is used for essential oils and is also sold as an herb or a spice for cooking and baking.
Some people use anise all by itself as a cup of tea. If you want to try it, boil one cup of water and steep 1-2 teaspoons of anise in it for 3-4 minutes. Add milk or honey, or both, depending on your taste preference.
When cooking, you can add anise to sweet or savory dishes and soups. Bakers often use anise with cinnamon and nutmeg for making spiced cakes, cookies, and loaves of bread. Anise can also be used for chai tea, hot chocolate, and mulled wine.
What is Licorice Commonly Used For?
Licorice is often used for cooking and for making candy — including licorice! Licorice is also harvested for essential oils and to flavor tobacco products.
Licorice is one of the five spices included in the Chinese Five Spice blend.
Do Anise and Licorice Have Medicinal Uses?
Licorice and anise have medicinal purposes, as they both aid the digestive system. They reduce bloating and can help relieve the common cough.
However, in recent years, there's been lots of discussion about how controversial of plant licorice is. Although it has health benefits, too much licorice root can also be detrimental.
Is Anise the Same as Star Anise?
Anise and star anise are two different things. Star anise is not related to licorice but is often used for essential oils or as an herb for cooking. Star anise comes from a plant found in Vietnam and China.
Can You Substitute Anise for Licorice in Recipes?
Yes, since they taste very similar, you may substitute anise in place of licorice and the other way around. However, if you are after the solid black color and taste of licorice, it is better to follow the recipe. You can only intensify the licorice taste when using anise, but you cannot replicate the dark color.
Licorice vs. Anise: Which is better?
There's no telling which is better between anise and licorice — it all depends on what you're looking for! If you're looking for delicious, fresh licorice candy in a variety of flavors, look no further than Licorice.com!