The root of the herbaceous Glycyrrhiza glabra, Liquorice (or licorice as they spell it in the US, Australia and New Zealand), has always been a popular confectionery thanks to the sweet flavour released from the root when it is chewed or extracted.
Although used extensively by American tobacco firms to sweeten their product and make them easier to inhale, in Europe and the Middle East it has traditionally been used as a key ingredient in myriad confections or to add sweetness to food and drinks.
But there is much more to this extraordinary root than those munching a bag of RJ’s Licorice allsorts might suspect.
The Health Benefits of Liquorice
Liquorice has a long tradition of being used in herbal remedies and medicines. In traditional Chinese medicine it is believed that the root harmonises the ingredients in a medicine, enabling it to effectively reach the ‘regular meridians’.
In Ayurveda it was used to promote rejuvenation, while in Syria and Egypt it is considered to promote general health and good digestion and is sold on the street as part of a popular beverage known as sous. The root has even been used in some cultures to promote skin lightening.
Modern science is also beginning to understand the health benefits of liquorice, with research showing that the glycyrrhizin contained in the root has antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties.
Thanks to this, liquorice has been used to ease stomach aches and indigestion as well as aiding respiratory problems by clearing mucus, reducing stress and helping to protect teeth and skin.
Because of the active properties in the root, it is advised not to consume too much liquorice in one go, although even the biggest lover of the confection is unlikely to exceed the 70-150g of pure liquorice considered to be a safe daily amount.
And it Tastes Good
We wouldn’t want to overstate the health benefits of liquorice at the expense of forgetting that these are also sumptuous sweets, enormously popular with customers. Producers like RJ’s Licorice, a family-run company from New Zealand, make the most of this delicious natural product to create a range of confections.
With a Soft Eating range which includes licorice logs, allsorts and licorice choc twists, all free from artificial preservatives, RJ’s is a brand which celebrates the distinctive taste of the root. Using only natural colours and flavourings such as raspberry, chocolate and peppermint, RJ’s enhance the flavour of their liquorice with complimentary aromas and tastes – adding to, rather than lessening, the sweet’s unique appeal.
So next time your customers are tempted to buy a bag of this sweet root, you might want to remind them that they’re not just treating themselves – they’re actually also improving their health. What better reason could there be to buy some delicious sweets?
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, established wholesale sweets suppliers who have been working with the most dedicated confectioners from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and the UK for decades to bring the finest chocolate and sweets to retailers across the country. Her knowledge about confectionery – whether the health benefits of liquorice or the best ways to cook with chocolate – is second to none.