Start to Finish: 5 minutes, plus 3 to 6 months of aging time

Servings: 24

Difficulty: Beginner

Anise adds a licorice flavor to baked goods, especially those common in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines. Making anise extract is a simple process that requires only two ingredients. You will also need a 4-ounce jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid and a piece of cheesecloth.

  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 4 ounces vodka

Tips

  • Anise seeds — not to be confused with star anise, which is harvested from an unrelated plant — are widely available in the spice isle of grocery stores and from specialty spice shops.  Purchase seeds with a strong licorice scent and a best-by date that is two to three years in the future.
  • Use leftover anise seeds in traditional crescent cookies, or combine them with peppercorns for a savory rub.

Clean and sterilize a 4-ounce jar and lid. Add the anise seeds and fill it with the vodka.

Seal the jar and store it in a cool dark place, such as a cupboard located away from the stove or dishwasher, or a basement storage room. Shake the jar daily for the first week to encourage extraction.

The extract will be ready to use in two to three months. The flavor will continue to intensify for as long as six months. When the extract reaches the intensity you want, pour it through a piece of cheesecloth into a clean bottle to filter out the anise seeds.

Tips

Anise extract has a shelf life of up to five years when kept away from heat and light.

Anise is a traditional flavor in a variety of sweet and savory recipes, such as Italian pizzelle and anise seed cookies. They are also a common ingredient in sausages. Use your homemade extract in: