August 16, 2006

Ingredients in Chinese Five Spice

One day I glanced at the ingredients on a bottle of Chinese Five Spice in my spice rack and was confused to see that it contained not five, but six spices. When I tried to figure out which was the rogue sixth spice, I ran into some trouble, because in fact there are several different “traditional” mixtures known as Chinese Five Spice, and at least one of those contains six spices. In fact, the only ingredients found in every variant are cinnamon and cloves. Here are a few sample Chinese Five Spice ingredient lists.

  • McCormick (as sold in the USA; also includes “sulfiting agents”)
    • Anise
    • Cinnamon
    • Star Anise
    • Cloves
    • Ginger
  • McCormick (as sold in Canada)
    • Fennel Seed
    • Anise Seed
    • Ginger
    • Licorice Root
    • Cinnamon
    • Cloves
  • Morton & Basset
    • Cinnamon
    • Anise Seed
    • Cloves
    • Ginger
    • Fennel Seed
  • Wikipedia
    • China Tung Hing Cinnamon (a type of cassia)
    • Powdered Cassia Buds
    • Powdered Star Anise
    • Powdered Anise Seed
    • Ginger Root
    • Ground Cloves
  • Also from the Wikipedia
    • Cinnamon
    • Black Pepper
    • Cloves
    • Fennel Seed
    • Star Anise

10 Responses to “Ingredients in Chinese Five Spice”

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  2. MamaDuck said:

    So how did you find this out?? Is it listed on the bottle or was it a taste-testing mission? ;) Our list is up if you’d like to look… have a great day!

  3. Jersey Girl said:

    That’s one of those things that makes you go hmmmm… neat little fact!

  4. Joe Kissell said:

    MamaDuck: I wish my palate were sophisticated enough to be able to tell the ingredients by taste, but I just looked at bottles of the stuff at home and at the supermarket.

    Jersey Girl: Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Lists Group Writing Project - Categorized said:

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  9. Bee said:

    The traditional ingredients for Chinese five spice are: Star anise, cinnamon or cassia sticks, fennel seeds, cloves and szechuan pepper peppercorns which are all ground up to a fine powder. It is very common these days that other ingredients such as ginger and/or substitutes for the traditional ingredients are added.

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