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Help with holiday spicing levels? Star Anise

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello all :)


So I am planning to make a homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving this year and am researching other's recipes to decide which flavors I want to impart and how strongly.  


One element though has me stumped.  I love the idea of using Star Anise in the sauce, but the recipes I have seen so far that incorporate it are wildly divergent in how much they use.  (All of these are for 24 ounces of cranberries).  One recipe calls for only one whole Star Anise, another calls for three, and another calls for ten!  I can usually find a happy medium between recipes that I think will work well, but a tenfold difference is shocking to me.  


What I want is a noticeable, and relatively powerful holiday flavor from it, without overpowering the cranberries natural flavors or making it into a "Star Anise sauce with cranberries."


I'm going to be using orange juice/zest as well, and something I'm considering is Cloves paired with the Star Anise... Is this likely to be a good pairing?  How do I decide a ratio between them without letting the flavors get muddy?  I'm in love with using spices but am still learning how to balance them and keep them complementary.


Any thoughts are greatly appreciated :)

post #2 of 6

Cloves and star anises would go together wonderfully. I wouldn't recommend using 3, let alone 10 for 24 ounces of cranberries!! Star anise is REALLY powerful. In fact I'd recommend you just break a piece and use maybe a 1/4 of one, unless you really want the star anise flavor to be the strongest flavor of your dish. If you want a noticeable flavor, maybe try 1/2 instead of 1/4. Or orange zest is also rather powerful but will go very well with those spices, very good pairing, yes. You may also consider nutmeg and or cinnamon, again with parsimony. Too many of those spices could quickly make the dish... sickening (by that I mean that after a couple of spoonfuls your guests can't eat anymore of it). 


One idea: wrap your spices, or at least the star anise, in cheesecloth, and infuse it in the dish, and keep tasting the dish as it cooks, so that you can remove the star anis once you find that there's enough star anise flavor. 

post #3 of 6

I'm guessing that the recipe that has 10 tsp. of star anise is an error that wasn't caught.  Is this a gelled cranberry sauce, or loose?  If it isn't gelled then start with 1 tsp. of star anise, long with any other spices.  Taste it and add more.  Is this a cooked cranberry sauce or raw?  If it is raw, I might give it an hour or 2 for the flavors to meld and taste it again and adjust from there.  While you could mix the star anise with clove as they do go well together, I think I would hold off on the clove, or use it very sparingly such as 1/4 tsp. then round of the flavor with some ground ginger.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for your replies!


Yes, it is a cooked sauce and will be thick, but loose.  The plan was to wrap the whole spices and simmer the sachet in the sauce as it cooked.


I was pretty sure the 10 was wrong, but wanted to be sure :)  


I think they're all talking about whole spices rather than tsp's.  If I use whole cloves, would one stem be about equal to a quarter tsp?  I thought about using some ginger, but was concerned about having too many flavors.  I could probably use just a bit, maybe a quarter tsp again?  or less?


Many thanks again!

post #5 of 6
May I ask, what material do you use to wrap the spices in a sachet?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #6 of 6

Koukouvagia, if I have cheesecloth around I will use that, but if I don't, and I don't have too many spices then I'll use a coffee filter.

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