This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Liquors, Wines, And Cordials, Without The Aid Of Distillation", by Pierre Lacour. Also available from Amazon: Manufacture of Liquors, Wines, and Cordials, Without the Aid of Distillation.
The seed are brought from Spain, Germany, and France. The Spanish are smaller than either, and are usually preferred. The seed appear of a light greenish brown colour, with a shade of yellow; their odor is increased by friction, and is too well known to need a description; their taste is warm, sweet, and aromatic; the oil is obtained by distillation. The seeds are sometimes adulterated with small fragments of argillaceous earth, which resembles them in color; the aromatic qualities are sometimes driven off by a slight fermentation, which they are apt to undergo in the mass when collected before maturity. The star aniseed is analogous in sensible properties to the common aniseed.
Aniseed are used in the distillation of cordials, etc., and some manufacturers prepare an infusion from the star aniseed; for flavoring brandies, acetic ether or spirit of prunes are used with it; the oil is used for preparing anisette, and should be first dissolved in alcohol. For quantity, etc., see Cordials.
Of this root there are two varieties. That known as garden angelica is preferable; it should be bought in powder, in well-stoppered bottles. The dried root is greyish brown, and much wrinkled externally, whitish and spongy within. The smell is strong and fragrant, and the taste at first sweetish, afterwards warm, aromatic, bitterish, and somewhat musky. This root is for cordials. See Formulas.
Or sweet flag. This is an indigenous plant, growing abundantly throughout the United States, in low, wet, swampy places. By the process of drying, the root loses nearly one half of its diameter, but is improved in odor and taste. The active principles are taken up both by spirit and boiling water. Calamus enters into the composition of the different varieties of bitters and cordials.
The caraway plant is a native of Europe, growing wild in meadows and pastures. It has been introduced into this country. Our supplies come partly from Europe and partly from our own gardens, Caraway seeds are about two lines in length, slightly curved, with five longitudinal ridges which are of a light yellowish color, while the intervening spaces are dark brown. They have a pleasant, aromatic smell, and a sweetish, warm, spicy taste. These properties depend on an essential oil which they afford largely by distillation. The seed yield their virtue to alcohol, and but slowly to water. See Formulas.
This valuable plant is a native of the mountains of Malabar, where it grows spontaneously. The odor of cardamom is fragrant, the taste warm, slightly pungent, and highly aromatic. These properties are extracted by water and alcohol, but more readily by the latter. The volatile oil is colorless, of an agreeable and very penetrating odor. It cannot be kept long.
There are several botanical varieties of cassia. Ceylon cinnamon is in long cylindrical fasciculi, composed of numerous quills, the larger inclosing the smaller. In the original sticks, which are somewhat more than three feet in length, two or three fasciculi are neatly joined at the end so as to appear as if the whole were one continuous piece. The finest is of a light brownish yellow color, almost as thin as paper.
The inferior sorts are browner, thicker, less splintery, and of a less agreeable flavor. The Chinese cinnamon, called cassia in commercial language, is usually in single tubes of various sizes, from an eighth of an inch to half an inch, and even an inch in diameter, and is the variety commonly found in the shops. Cinnamon from which the oil has been distilled is sometimes fraudulently mingled with the genuine. This bark may be known by its greater thickness and deficient taste. This aromatic yields its virtues wholly to alcohol, and less readily to water.