Liquorice or licorice is a pulse family perennial, which is primarily cultivated for its taproot. It is majorly grown in Central and Southern Europe, and some parts of Asia. It is also known as sweetroot in some places.
Used by the Native Americans and the Ancient Chinese, liquorice has not just been used for its fragrant properties but also for its contributions towards several medical treatments. Alexander the Great had reportedly eaten this plant. Dominican friars had brought this plant to England, and the candy production later started to roll at Pontefract Abbey, Yorkshire. Today, the annual liquorice festival is held annually in July in Pontefract.
The plant has a height of anywhere between three to seven feet, with the taproot reaching a four-feet depth. Upon blossom, it gives out white and purple flowers along with maroon seed pods. The root has to stay under the ground for at least three years before it can be ready for harvest.
Food and Other Uses
Liquorice has been used for cooking purposes for quite some time now, with its major applications being in confectioneries. The Scandinavian candy Salmiakki and the German candy Lakritz is made from liquorice. Liquorice is also used for making aperitifs and in breweries. The ready-made liquorice candy has multiple uses, which not a lot of common people are aware of. As a result, liquorice does not find space in most of the kitchens around the world, unlike salt and other basic cooking ingredients. Liquorice can also be seen as an add-on to the five spice powder from China.
Though there are several medical properties and benefits attached to liquorice, it is not advised to use the plant over-the-counter or without a proper consultation with a doctor. Traditional doctors might not necessarily advocate the use of liquorice for medicinal purposes, as it is a natural remedy and would, therefore, spoil the sales of their traditional medicine. However, non-traditional doctors who are into herbs and natural remedies may help with some enlightening on the same. According to the medical reports and research conducted on the plant and its roots, liquorice root extract can help with the prevention of tooth decay. It could also be very beneficial in treating rosacea conditions. However, on the other hand, liquorice has been associated with reduced testosterone and high blood pressure, something men with testosterone issues might not be very pleased about.