Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is used for its root and the juice extracted from it; both have a powerful aroma reminiscent of anise or fennel but considerably stronger and a sweet, warm, rather medicinal taste. Liquorice root, especially the root bark, contains about 4 percent glycyrrhizin, which is about 50 times sweeter than sucrose (cane sugar).
Liquorice was known to the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans as a remedy for coughs and colds. The black juice extracted from the roots was taken as a refreshing drink by the Greeks and Romans. German and Russian liquorice is extracted from wild liquorice (G. echinata). Chinese liquorice (G. uralensis), widely cultivated in China, is grown for export and also to flavour Chinese master sauces, in which a strongly salted and spiced broth is used and reused as a cooking liquid.
In northern Europe, especially Holland, northern Germany, and Scandinavia, liquorice is the base of traditional candies made from evaporated liquorice juice plus flavourings like lemon or, more traditionally, salmiac (sal ammoniac, or ammonium chloride), and usually no sugar. The Dominican monastery at Pontefract, England, which first cultivated liquorice in the sixteenth century, later became the center of the English liquorice candy industry. In Mongolia, liquorice leaves are called nakhalsa and used as a tea. Liquorice root is added for flavour, body, and black colour to port and stout, Turkish raki, and Italian Sambuca, as well as snuff and chewing tobacco. It is widely used as a flavouring for candies, baked goods, ice cream, and soft drinks. Liquorice-based sweets are suspected to cause high blood pressure, but it is unclear whether consumption of a few liquorice candies has any significant effect. The sweetness in liquorice root is safe for diabetics.
- Other Names
- licorice (USA); Alcaçuz (Portuguese); black sugar; glykoriza (Greek); jethimadh (Hindi); kan ts’ao (Chinese); kanzou (Japanese); lakrichnik (Russian); lakrids (Danish); lakritze or sussholz (German); liquirizia or regolizia (Italian); orozuz, or ragaliz (Spanish); réglisse (French); shush kireah (Hebrew); Spanish juice; sus (Arabic); susu (Swahili); zoethout (Dutch)
- Purchase and Avoid
- Liquorice may be found dried in root form; as a gray-green, very fine, talcum-like powder, especially in natural foods stores; and in a liquid extract from Italian and other Mediterranean groceries.
Flavour custard and panna cotta with liquorice.
Add a little liquorice extract to fruit salads.
Season roast pork or chicken with a few melted liquorice candies.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Spice
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