HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

What's the mass of a star anise pod?

I needed star anise pods and bought broken ones because they're significantly cheaper that way than when perfectly intact. On the other hand, this poses problems when recipes ask you to add a certain number of whole star anise pods. So can anyone either mass a few star anise pods and tell me the average mass of a single pod or point me in the direction of similar information? The idea is that knowing the mass of a single pod I can just convert "x star anise pods" to "y grams of broken star anise" and use my fragments that way.

Right now I'm just roughly reconstructing the fragments into whole pods before using them - they're only broken into three or four pieces each - but this is obviously not very accurate.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Online images show most have 8 arms.

    1. Mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

      1. there is not a recipe on the planet that would be seriously affected by having one too many or one fewer than the recipe called for.

        Savoury cooking just isn't that precise -- you'll find an enormous number of us here wing it on a regular basis.

        Baking can be a little more demanding as to precision, but even baking wouldn't be disrupted by some variance in a flavoring agent like star anise.

        1. If you have enough broken ones put them in a coffee bean grinder and grind them up. Then pour the ground pods onto a scale and note how many grams there are.
          Let's say you get 10 grams. Then weigh out 10 grams of whole pods. Then count the number of pods there are and you have your answer.

          1. I weighed 10 and it came to 7g - but they are not all the same size.

            3 Replies
            1. re: PhilD

              Then pick out say forty all as close to the same size as you can.
              Grind up twenty and weigh them.

              1. re: Puffin3

                I could have but ten seemed a reasonable number and why would I grind them up....the weight doesn't change does it?

              2. re: PhilD

                Thanks for actually doing this. I followed the advice above and just tried to "rebuild" a few and then mass those and came to about .7-.8g per pod.

                So for future reference it seems to be a little over .7g a piece, as a ballpark.

              3. Why are you worrying about this?. Not all star anise pods will have the same degree of flavor. Yours may be older or fresher than those used by the creator of the recipe. Yours or theirs may have been improperly stored or processed. In other words there is no such thing as a standard star anise or any other spice for that matter. What does matter is the final taste of the dish. And it that the taste you prefer. There is a difference between cooking and following recipes.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jbuttitta

                  I remember as a little kid going with a delivery truck to drop dairy products off at the mine at 'Loader's Lime' near Exshaw Alberta. The driver would deliver the milk etc to the huge commercial kitchen that used to feed a couple of hundred miners a day. There was always a certain delicious smell of roast beef in the air. Same when dropping dairy products off at a large Bible school in Didsbury. Same smell in large commercial kitchens.
                  That certain roast beef smell.
                  I have found the 'secret ingredient' that helps create that smell/flavor: Just add a single whole star anise seed pod when you are browning/frying beef. Just leave it in for a couple of minutes then for sure don't forget to remove it as it will make the beef taste too strong of star anise. You just need the 'suggestion' to recreate that special aroma.
                  I now use it when I frying steaks/burgers/with roasts/stews.
                  You can also use it with wild game. I'd like it if some one would try it and come back here and give their opinion.

                  1. re: jbuttitta

                    I'm aware of these differences, I just wanted a baseline to start from. The first time I make something I follow a recipe, and then I experiment from there.