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Licorice: (Liquorice) (Glycyrrhiza glabra)- What is it?
Licorice is a botanical, a shrub native to southern Europe and Asia, the roots of which have two primary desirable qualities: first, some varieties of
licorice root are fifty times sweeter than sugar and may be chewed or eaten as a sweet and making it a useful component of candies and flavorings; second, licorice has been for thousands of years sought after for its reputed medicinal qualities. Licorice grows wild in southern central Europe and Asia. It is used for its roots and its rhizomes (underground stems). Glycyrrhizic acid is extracted from the root and used as a flavoring in food, tobacco, alcohol, and cosmetics. But there is much
more please see History .
Does all licorice taste the same?
No, indeed not. There are over a dozen varieties of licorice, the roots vary in degrees of sweetness to a sharp almost peppery flavor. If you don't like one, try another! But there is much more please see Recipes .
What are these beneficial medicinal qualities claimed for licorice?
It has proven useful in the treatment of coughs, where it serves a mild expectorant, and of sore throats, where its soothing properties bring relief. Licorice increases the production of protective mucus in the stomach, and may reduce the
acid secretion, making it a useful treatment of inflammatory stomach conditions. But there is much more please see Health .
Over 300 kinds of Licorice!
In the confectionery industry, water extracts of licorice roots are mixed with sugar, corn
syrup and flour to make many types of licorice candy. In the USA, however, anethole, a major constituent in the anise plant, is a popular substitute-flavoring agent for licorice. Licorice is also commonly used as a sweetening / flavoring agent to counteract the unpleasant taste of many drugs or added as filler in capsules. In the United Kingdom liquorice (syn. licorice) is used as an emulsifier to create foam in drinks and alcoholic beverages. Licorice root can be chewed or made into tea. It
is frequently found in cough preparations and candies, often combined with anise seed. Consumption of licorice is believed to aid in healing stomach ulcers. Tea made from licorice and other anti-spasmodic herbs is often taken for menstrual cramps.