Smoked Star Anise Infused Maple Syrup
Frequently found in both Chinese and Vietnamese cooking, Star Anise is one of the key flavors in five spice. The Star Anise used in the infusion is indirectly dried over an open fire, resulting in smokier notes, which add to the delightful complexity of the spice. Part of our single-origin, collaboration series with Burlap and Barrel.
We are thrilled about our collaboration with Burlap and Barrel for limited release Winter Anise Infused Maple. Burlap and Barrel was started by Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar who saw an opening for single source, highly curated herbs and spices. They travel the world, meeting with farmers and finding varieties of spices that are rarely seen in western markets. We were hooked after trying their Zanzibar Black Peppercorns which have a fruity punch to them and redefine what black pepper should be. When we tried others, we realized their spices were superior to many of the commodity ones available and reached out to see if we could arrange a collaboration.
After testing a few in our maple syrup, this Winter Harvest Anise was one of the best infusions. To explain more about it, we’ll turn it over to them.
“The star anise comes from a small farm in the mountains of Lang Son, on the Vietnamese side of the Vietnamese/Chinese border. It is grown by two cousins, who cultivate areas of the forest to grow star anise fruits. The winter harvest takes place in late February / early March, and because its cold and rainy during the harvest season, the pods are dried over an indirect fire, essentially smoking them as they dry. They pick up a really interesting savory, smoky flavor, which complements the tart, fruity anise flavor particularly well. The winter harvest star anise is among the single most complex, interesting flavors I have ever encountered: smoky, fruity and aromatic. (The summer harvest star anise pods are a little bigger and sweeter, and are sun dried rather than smoked.)”
When you take this exquisite anise and infuse it in maple syrup, the result is a sultry licorice flavor with hints of smoke and citrus. We love it in lemon tea but it would also be good on hot oatmeal. It is also a very good addition to Southeast Asian cuisine where anise and a sweetener like palm sugar are common ingredients. We’ve used it in place of the caramel in a traditional Caramel Pork recipe that is heaven. It goes well with orange so we created an Orange Flan with Anise Maple Caramel for those who are feeling chefy. And, of course, it is very good on pancakes.