Spice Up Your Life

Explore a world of flavor from the comfort of your home. Each month we will explore new spices, their history, and how to use them. Kits can be picked up in the Library or curbside.

(While supplies last.)

October Feature: Star Anise

Star Anise and Honey Glazed Chicken:


  • ½ Cup Soy Sauce

  • ½ Cup Honey

  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar

  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger 

  • 4-6 Star Anise (whole)

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced

  • 3 – 4 Chicken Breasts (about 3lbs.)


Set your oven to 350 degrees and allow it to preheat. 

Set the oven racks at the middle. Mix everything but the 14mixture over chicken. Bake between an hour, and an hour and twenty minutes. While cooking, remember to baste chicken with marinade mixture every 10 – 15 minutes. Serve with sautéed spinach and garlic or jasmine rice! 


History & Origins:

Star Anise comes from a small evergreen tree in Southwest China and Vietnam. The “star” is the fruit of the tree, its then dried out, and used in multiple ways, from foods to medicines. The Chinese have been using this spice in both ways for over 3,000 years. Both the seeds and the pods contain the flavor and can be ground together or used whole to flavor broths. The eight arms of the star are supposed to signify luck in Chinese folklore.


The spice made its way to Europe in 1578. English navigator Sir Thomas Cavendish brought it to Europe by way of the Philippines. This originally caused people to believe the spice came from that region, instead of its native China and Vietnam. In Europe, the spice was used in desserts and liqueurs.

Flavor Profile & Uses:

Star anise is widely described as having the same licorice notes found in fennel and anise. Of the three it is known to be the most pungent. If too much is used, the spice can cause food to have a bitter aftertaste. 


Star Anise can be used for many things. It is one of the main spices used in Five-Spice blends found throughout Asia. In Vietnam, it’s used to flavor Pho (a type of soup.) In Thailand, the spice is even used to flavor iced tea! Besides foods, star anise has shown to be helpful in pharmaceuticals and is a major source of Shikimic acid which is used in creating the anti-influenza drug Oseltamivir (Tamiful.)

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