Home Grown Star Anise • Steamy Kitchen Recipes Giveaways (2024)

by Jaden | Featured, Grow, Ingredient | 32 comments

Home Grown Star Anise • Steamy Kitchen Recipes Giveaways (1)

A lovely reader sent a package of his homegrown star anise spice. Have you ever used star anise before?

Normally, when I buy them at the Asian market, they look like they’ve been picked through – none of the “stars” even resemble stars. Upon opening the bag, there is a dusty, musty smell.

Not these.

Home Grown Star Anise • Steamy Kitchen Recipes Giveaways (2)

These are fresh and dried star anise from Greg’s yard. Did you know star anise is actually an immature fruit that’s dried?

Greg says that the star anise tree (it’s a tree!), kept low and trimmed, make wonderful hedges. When you cut the hedges, it releases an amazing, spicy, warm fragrance. I think I’ll take the seeds and plant them in my front yard, what a wonderful way to welcome our friends (and the UPS guy) to house!

I’ve just learned this pod’s folklore, “Place Star anise under your pillow at night to keep bad dreams away and also to dream of someone far away,” says Growing Hermioine’s Garden.

Home Grown Star Anise • Steamy Kitchen Recipes Giveaways (3)

The green fruit will dry to become the nutty-brown star anise spice that we use in Chinese cooking. Greg included instructions with his care package: Dry in a ventilated screen or it will mold. Also cover withthe green pods with some kind of cloth or paper, because as the pods dry, they will SHOOT the seeds out!

How fun! I really want to see the shooting seeds. Maybe I’ll have to stage a camera in front of the drying pods and catch it shooting seeds!

Home Grown Star Anise • Steamy Kitchen Recipes Giveaways (4)

I’ll have to report back on our progress in growing the seeds. In my research, I’ve found out that the “Illicium verum”isof the magnolia tree family. Here in the U.S., itgrows nicely as a small to medium, spreading evergreen tree in zones 9 and 10 (it doesn’t do well in below freezing temperatures.)

The Homestead Garden states that, “This spice has a savory-sweet flavor to it, often compared to licorice with a slight cinnamon and clove taste. It has a large quantity of a chemical called anethole, which makes star anise 13 times sweeter than sugar.”

The spice is quite strong, only 1 or 2 star anise is needed to flavor an entire pot of stew. Star anise is also a component of Chinese 5-Spice Powder.

Here’s something interesting from The Epicentre, “Star anise pairs brilliantly with tomatoes. It’s licorice-like flavor actually bears a close resemblance to that of fennel and basil, tomato’s classic companions. A single pod of star anise adds a new level of flavour to a tomato-based sauce or stew with a warm, spicy undertone. The same goes for braised beef dishes – from stews to chili to oxtail soup, star anise can be the secret ingredient that elevates the dish to a whole new level.”

I’ve never tried star anise with tomatoes, but I think the next batch of tomato sauce will be an experiment with a star or two thrown in.

Here are a few recipes I’ve made using star anise!

Vietnamese Pho

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Chinese Boiled Peanuts

Taiwanese Pork Noodles

  1. Aruna Patil on 10/5/21 at 11:41 am

    can I get few Viable fresh star anise seeds? I lice in California. I tried On line seller but they are not reliable. They have sold me old non viable seeds.


  2. Isabel on 10/29/19 at 6:24 am

    I live in southwest Florida, between Tampa and Sarasota, I am looking for seeds or small plant of stat anise. Where can I get them anyone, please.


  3. Graeme on 6/28/19 at 1:56 pm

    Some great ideas.
    I’m just setting up for a new garden.
    In central Portugal.


  4. Bobbi Robertson on 9/4/15 at 9:45 am

    I live in sunnysouthwest florida, and have a ten foot high tree which gave me tons of pods, you are right about covering the pods when drying, they really do pop and send the seeds flying. Nice to know that you can cook with the pods. i have been trying to start new plants from tip cuttings, not doing so well. Any tips would be appreciated.


    • Ray Cisewski on 7/31/17 at 10:39 pm

      Can anyone set me up with some seeds for planting,I have been looking all over the web but no luck.RayC


  5. corrine on 12/26/14 at 9:54 am

    I have a 6 ft star anise tree in my garden. I just don’t know how long it takes for it to bear fruit. I also use the leaves which imparts the same flavor.


  6. sazal on 10/24/14 at 11:30 am

    The picture is awesome


  7. Terri Clark-Kveton on 10/11/14 at 10:14 pm

    Interesting post, I am going to check my gardening sites for more info on the plant/tree cultivation requirements. I make rooibos tea a lot and often put fresh ginger, cinnamon & anise seeds in it for an anti-inflam/immune system boost. Or in my home-made Chai mix, as well as using it in cooking.


  8. Crystal Porter on 10/9/14 at 10:02 pm

    Wow! The pictures look beautiful and I’ve learned a lot. Thanks! 🙂


  9. Siv @ AWorldInMyOven on 10/1/14 at 2:20 pm

    Wauw, I learned so much – I don’t think I knew ANY of this… I wonder if a star anise bush would survive here, because I would just love to have home-grown star anise in my dishes! I’m actually going to try using some star anise in stead of sugar in my coffee next time, perhaps it works!


    • SteamyKitchen on 10/1/14 at 5:11 pm

      Let me know if you like it in your coffee 🙂


      • Siv @ AWorldInMyOven on 10/13/14 at 2:23 pm

        I see where we’re coming from with the sweetness, but I ended up adding sugar anyway.. So it didn’t work! Perhaps it’s the licorice-taste of anise that begs for more sugar again? Anyway, it paired up really nicely – I felt like drinking a coffee version of chai tea!


  10. GK on 9/26/14 at 4:25 am

    I had no idea how star anise was grown, they are so beautiful! The photos are really wonderful. Some pho sure sounds good right now. 🙂


  11. Fergie on 9/25/14 at 11:19 am

    This is fantastic news! I live in CenTX now, but I’m moving to MT in a few months. I just happen to have some seeds from a friend living in Vietnam who has been traveling around Asia. I think I will start some in a pot and see if it will survive in the sun room in our new house. Who knew until YOU?! THANK YOU!!!


  12. Shashi at runninsrilankan on 9/25/14 at 10:51 am

    I have never seen fresh star anise fruit before – and you are so right about the broken store bought variety!


  13. Toi on 9/25/14 at 8:02 am

    Please provide pictures of Anise tree!

    Thank you


  14. Christina on 9/25/14 at 5:52 am

    Where can I find seeds to grow my own at home? Do they need anything special do thrive? I live in southern CA and our soil and water quality is just terrible.


    • SteamyKitchen on 9/25/14 at 11:17 am

      I’d order the seeds online from a seed company. The ones at the supermarket probably won’t germinate well. I bet they would grow well in So.Cal!


      • Christina on 9/29/14 at 5:46 am

        Thank you. I appreciate it.


  15. Diane and Todd on 9/24/14 at 11:53 pm

    WOW, these are so cool! This is a first for us to see it fresh.


  16. Kathy on 9/24/14 at 10:11 pm

    How exciting. I love Star Anise and did not know it would grow I the U.S.!


  17. Sally T. on 9/24/14 at 9:43 pm

    It’s fun to learn something New all the time.Loved reading


  18. Doug on 9/24/14 at 7:21 pm

    @Tuty Yes they grow in the US. My father, who may be the Greg referenced in the article, grows them in central Florida. He gave me two small plants that I planted in my backyard in the South Carolina Low Country that are now easily ten feet tall and provide us with abundant stars.


    • Kevin Freudenberg on 2/14/17 at 6:18 am

      Hi Doug

      I am in Cape Town, South Africa and am battling to get hold of some star anise seeds, which I would love to grow. Do you have available that I could buy from you? I will pay any costs involved. Please let me know. Best regards. Kevin.


  19. Vickie on 9/24/14 at 6:44 pm

    Jaden, how wonderful for a reader to send star anise to you and lot of people never saw how it look fresh. Wonder where to get a tree to grow? I loved your mohark chickens. I had Japanese petting chickens in Hawaii when I was young. They wonder out yard around the neighborhood and neighbors call them husband and wife.
    Too bad mongoose got the roaster so hen stay by herself for many years till she passed on.


  20. dorothy on 9/24/14 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Jaden,
    Enjoyed the post on Star Anise. My Husband’s family was of Czechoslavakian heritage. At Easter and Christmas they made a bread called Vanocka. They have all passed but my Husband and I continue the tradition with our family. The main spice ins Star Anise, ground.. Which is extremely hard to find. The whole star is ground to a fine powder. I purchase it from Penzy’s. The aroma fills the house and everyone knows it is Vanocka time..
    It is time consuming. It makes a wonderful bread like loaf. It is really huge.
    A fact I learned from your post is that it is related to the Magnolia.
    I suggest you start lightly with adding it to anything the flavor is very distinct and pungent.. Good Luck, Dorothy


  21. Betty Ann Quirino @Mango_Queen on 9/24/14 at 5:30 pm

    I love using star anise in my Filipino stews and roasts. It adds a distinct, sweet flavor to dishes. How lucky you are to have reader Greg send you some. Those photographs of the star anise look amazing, I can just smell the aroma. I’ll take your cue and try it on the Vietnamese Pho recipe you shared. Thanks for this post, Jaden!


  22. Linda Andrews on 9/24/14 at 5:20 pm

    I lived in Japan for several years and the noodles were one of the first foods I tried. They were delicious, however for some reason I would have severe stomach pains after eating them. After 3 times of this happening, the doctor decided I might be allergic to them. I was very disappointed.


      • Jaden on 2/18/16 at 12:29 pm

        Thanks David!


      • Alice Harp on 10/6/21 at 3:55 pm

        This needs repeating. The Japanese Star Anise looks very very much like the Chinese Star Anise. This is like trying to tell mushrooms apart when there is barely any difference.


  23. Tuty on 9/24/14 at 5:00 pm

    Wow.. I thought Star Anise won’t grow in the US. BTW, do the green ones smell just as fragrant as the dried ones? Can you cook with the green pods?

    Let us know and share your pictures as the seeds grow. I wonder how many years it takes for the tree to bear the stars.


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