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Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop

Herb Leaves

Anise Hyssop is a surprising plant that at first glance looks like an old nettle but once you taste its soft, anise-scented leaves you’re in for a treat! It is just totally amazing and really is one of my favourite things – a really sweet aniseed, in the area of fennel but with a very different texture. The smaller leaves on the tips of the plant are very soft and actually feel soft to your tongue but they get a little bit more fibrous as they get bigger. Texture-wise, it has very slightly fury leaves. We pick the tips when they are just 5mm and the normal leaves when they are up to about 3cm, depending on how people want to use it.

We get pastry chefs who use the leaves and tips in delicate deserts or it can be used to give sweetness to a salad and I can imagine it is used well with fish. I tend to stick it into salads, just picking it when I am walking past, or just eat the leaves raw as I’m harvesting. Anise Hyssop is also referred to as ‘liquorice mint’ and it works in a similar way to mint in bringing out the flavours of juicy fruits like strawberries and melon (but with a liquorice-aniseed tone rather than mint flavours). It can also be used to create sweet syrup and other infusions, as in Scott Beattie’s Artisanal Cocktails.

It is quite a hardy plant and it’s fairly easy to grow but not very abundant, so the plants germinate and grow quite well but they don’t always have a lot of leaves. Anise Hyssop also have a very unique flower which is very popular because of its great flavour and bright blue colour.

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Written by Sean O Neill

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