The Unique Properties of (Real) Licorice
Licorice enjoys a rare position in the long catalog of plants used by mankind. We use it as a candy, a sweetener and flavoring agent, and in both modern and traditional medicine as a natural herbal remedy.
Real licorice has a strong and distinctive sweet flavor that has been prized for its own sake and its soothing qualities for centuries. Napoleon sucked on licorice sticks because he liked them. The Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamen, was buried with a substantial quantity of licorice for use in the afterlife (whether this was for its value as a candy or as medicine, or both, we don’t know).
In short, real licorice not only tastes good, it’s also good for you.
Not All Licorice Is Licorice
When you buy licorice candy in your local supermarket or candy store, what exactly are you buying? If you live in the United States, the chances are it isn’t licorice. So-called “licorice” candy is flavored with anise (the same herb that gives Pernod its distinctive flavor) or synthetic substitutes. Sugar then becomes a major ingredient, since anise lacks the sweetness of real licorice. Oddly enough, although actual licorice extract is produced in the United States, 90% or more is used to flavor other things, such as cough medicines and (believe it or not) tobacco.
Even if you do manage to find the real thing, it will almost certainly have been chemically altered in various ways. (See “Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)” for more information.) Only licorice extract in its pure, original form can be certified organic.
Only The Real Thing Is The Real Thing…
Like any natural plant extract, real licorice contains a large complex of interacting components that give it its unique combination of flavor and properties. This rich and complex flavor, from the interaction of literally hundreds of organic chemicals and trace elements, is impossible to manufacture artificially. Only the incredibly tiny cellular “chemical factories” in living plants have that subtlety.
You can find more information about Licorice by browsing the Internet!
Copyright © 2004 Alan Gilbertson