Epicurious Magazine notes that a spice is generally a seasoning derived from the “bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds or stems of various plants and trees," and "herbs usually come from the leafy part of a plant.” While many spices are available to season both sweet and savory dishes, a handful of them share a licorice-tasting flavor profile. Many of these spices come from plants in the parsley family.
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The anise plant is a member of the parsley family and its seeds are described by Epicurious Magazine’s Food Dictionary as “greenish-brown [and] comma-shaped.” The licorice-tasting spice dates back to 1500 BC and is used to flavor alcoholic drinks, such as Ouzo, as well as being used in cookies, other desserts and savory dishes.
According to the Spice Encyclopedia, caraway seeds are believed to be “the spice used longer than any other in Europe.” Another offering from the parsley family, caraway seeds are described as having a “nutty, delicate anise flavor” according to the Weight Watchers’ Real World Spice chart. Used in German, Hungarian and Austrian cooking, caraway seeds are best known for appearing in rye bread and sauerkraut.
Dill is also derived from a plant in the parsley family. Dill is available as a fresh or dried herb called dill weed, or as the dried fruit of the plant known as dill seed. Weight Watchers’ Real World Spice Chart describes dill weed as having a “fresh, sweet, slightly licorice-like flavor” and recommends using it in savory dishes, such as salads, sauces, meats or in potato salads. Dill seeds, on the other hand, are commonly found in pickling brine, and are described as faintly resembling the flavor of caraway seeds.
The fennel seed also produces a licorice-like flavor, but is described by the Spice Encyclopedia as “more aromatic, sweeter and less pungent” than anise. Yet another member of the parsley family, the spice can be purchased whole as oval-shaped, greenish-brown seeds or ground. Used in both sweet and savory dishes, it is an ingredient in Kümmel, a liqueur which also includes cumin and caraway seeds.