Licorice – What is it? How to grow it? What are its uses?


Licorice - What is it? How to grow it? What are its uses?
Licorice – What is it? How to grow it? What are its uses?

What is it?

Licorice is a leguminous plant which grows in the Middle East, southern Europe, and parts of Asia including India. Its specialty is in its roots, which will interest you for sure. The reason is that they produce a sweet flavor. You can extract this flavor and use it in candies and sweeteners.

How to grow licorice?

Licorice grows best in the well-drained soils of deep valleys where there is abundant sunlight. You can harvest it in the autumn after 2 to 3 years of planting. Countries which produce most licorice include India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, People’s Republic of China, and Italy. M&F Worldwide is the leading corporate company you will find to sell licorice to the end-users.

You can grow licorice from seeds as well as cuttings. Just after you sow the seeds, cover them up with a layer of sand and sprinkle water on that. This helps the sand to be moist as the sand drains out the excess water. Once the seeds germinate, you may shift the saplings to a more comfortable location. You may leave them at their existing location as well. You should keep a minimum distance of about 2 feet while sowing seeds or planting cuttings. The best time for you to sow the seeds or plant the cuttings is in the summer or spring when the temperature is around 20 degrees Centigrade.

What are its uses?

Tobacco

Earlier, you could use licorice as a flavoring agent for the tobacco used in American blend cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. But in 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of all flavors except menthol in the cigarettes and not other tobacco products. So, you can still use it for flavoring chewing tobacco.

Licorice - What is it? How to grow it? What are its uses?
Licorice – What is it? How to grow it? What are its uses?

Food and Confectionery

Licorice flavor is used in a variety of candies and sweets. You can reinforce the taste of the candies by adding aniseed oil. Licorice confectioneries are mainly purchased by European consumers. But you can find its popularity in Australia and New Zealand as well.

Dried sticks of licorice root or sweet-wood are a traditional confectionery in Holland. You will get a sweetness stronger than sucrose by chewing them. But you will not damage your teeth. Sweet-wood had become rarer since the 1970s due to the production of candies prepared from it. As a result, you had to change your mind towards these candies. These candies were mixed with flavors like mint, menthol, and aniseed to add to the variety you look for. You may buy the salty Salmiak Licorice in Holland. It is prepared by adding a little Salmiak or Ammonium Chloride to licorice. You will find Salmiak Licorice to be saltier in the Nordic countries.

Licorice was first mixed with sugar to be served as a sweet at Pontefract in Yorkshire. You call it ‘Spanish’ as the Spanish monks had grown the plant nearby. Natural licorice is very popular in southern Italy, Spain, and France. You can chew its root like a mouth freshener after it is dug up, washed, and dried. 100% pure extract of licorice is found throughout Italy in the form of unsweetened black pieces. You can find a popular liquor made of the pure extract in Calabria. In Syria and Egypt, you can buy a licorice drink from the shops and street vendors.

You can also find its wide-spread use in the Ayurvedic, traditional Chinese and Greek medicines. It is due to the anti-inflammatory and expectorant effects that it can cause in the body of the consumers.

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