Green anise is an annual herbaceous plant, belonging to the Umbelliferae family which, in the Castignano ecotype, has a high percentage of extracted essence (4.6%) and a high anethole content (94%), which characterize the strong concentration of active ingredients and an intense and persistent perfume. Today this seed is part of the biodiversity register and its conservation is entrusted to the producers of the Slow Food Presidium, who have the role of custodian farmers.
The cultivated fields are located in the municipality of Castignano in the province of Ascoli Piceno (Central Italy). The ecosystem of the high hills of the Piceno, at an altitude between 400 m and 700 m asl, confers unsurpassed organoleptic and aromatic qualities: the sunny exposure of the land, the freshness of the sea breezes that rise from the Adriatic the slopes of Mount Ascension, the fertile and well-drained soil, make these seeds unique. Full of sweetness, richer in aromas and flavors.
The fields adorned with the beautiful white flowers of green anise revive and fill the warm colors of summer with freshness, making the agrarian landscape surreal.
Sowing is carried out in the months of March-April, the plants bloom in mid-July and, between the end of July and the beginning of August, the fruits are ripe and the plants, as they once were, they are uprooted by hand, collected in bundles and left to dry in the shade and in a dry place for several days. Subsequently they are subjected to beating with a stick to separate the ripe fruits which are cleaned of impurities by sieving. They are kept in closed canvas bags in a cool and dry place.
In a 12th-13th century treatise on Medicine Flos Medicinae Salerni (The flower of Salerno medicine) or Lilium Medicinae (The medicine lily), the health virtues of the green anise are summarized as follows:
Anise strengthen the eyes and the stomach restores, among its species the one it appreciates in which you find more sweetness.
Recent scientific researches confirm that the one grown on our hills is the most fragrant and sweet.
In the kitchen it is mainly used for desserts of various kinds (green aniseed biscuits are famous), for herbal teas and for the distillation of anisette and mistrà, but also to give a particular touch to first and second courses.
For more information on traditional recipes, please check the recipe book on the website www.aniceverdedicastignano.it.