Star anise starts as a fibrous green fruit with a tart, underripe-peach flavor, and turns into the woody red-brown spice as it dries.
Our star anise is picked by hand in the mountains near the border between Vietnam and China. The cold, cloudy weather during the winter harvest means the star anise fruits need to be dried on racks near a wood fire, and they pick up a beautiful hint of smokiness. Add petals to stocks, braised meats, rice, teas and cocktails, or grind them up for desserts and baked goods.
Origin: Lang Son, Vietnam
Processing: Smoked, then sun-dried
Ingredients: 100% true star anise fruits (Illicium verum), slightly smoked
Tasting Notes: Licorice • Woodsmoke • Tart Fruit
Add petals to homemade stocks, broths, and braises
Throw 1-2 pods into a pot of rice after adding water
Add to your mulling spice mix for wine, pears, cocktails, and even teas
Grind and add to spice cookies, holiday cakes, and homemade frosting or whipped cream
Our star anise is grown by members of the Muong ethnic group in north-eastern Vietnam. We work with two cousins, who are the owners of a vertically-integrated star anise company, growing the fruits on their own farm as well as buying fresh fruit from their neighbors, and setting up a drying facility on the hill behind their home. Everything that they grow gets shipped to China (the border is only about 15 miles away), but we're now their first and only US partner.
The winter star anise harvest typically has lower yields and smaller fruits than the summer harvest, but it produces individual fruits that are stronger in flavor and have a higher essential oil content. The fruits grow on tall, straight trees and are green when they're picked, then turn brown as they dry.
The drying process (a few hours over a wood fire in winter before being sun-dried) concentrates the natural sweetness of the fruit and highlights the rich, nutty licorice essence.
Meet the Farmer: Chu Thi How (left) and Hoang Thi Keo are cousins and members of the Muong ethnic group in north-eastern Vietnam. They started with their own star anise farm, and eventually built their own drying facility adjacent to their home. Now they dry the star anise that they grow, as well as for the rest of their community of farmers.