Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Some people love them, others find them disgusting. And those who like it can't get enough of it. Licorice, which originated from the liquorice plant, was developed in the 18th century by the apothecary George Dunhill and is now popular, especially as a sweet, with both adults and children. In addition, the popular liquorice offers healthy ingredients.

When can you snack on a sweet without worrying about your health? Not only is the variety of liquorice great, but also the ingredients that bring you health benefits. In order to introduce you to these, we will compare different types in the following, show you what liquorice contains and explain the effects.




Summary

  • Liquorice comes in various flavours and from many different ingredients, so that all individual tastes can be satisfied. The main distinction is between adult and children's liquorice.
  • Licorice root is not only popular as a snack in the form of liquorice, but is also a well-known remedy and brings many positive health effects.
  • In excess, liquorice can cause side effects and damage health, so only a small amount is recommended. Pregnant women in particular should avoid eating liquorice. The glycyrrhizic acid contained in liquorice can be harmful to the unborn child.

The best Licorice: Our Picks

In this section, we have compiled the most popular types of liquorice to help you find the best one for you. The list includes products to help you choose the right one for everyone.

Buying and rating criteria for liquorice

To help you choose between the different types of liquorice, we have summarised the most important criteria again so that you can find the tastiest and most suitable liquorice for you. These criteria are as follows:

In the following, we will explain to you what you need to consider in these criteria so that you can ultimately make the best decision for yourself.

Ingredients

The basic ingredient of liquorice is the raw liquorice that comes from the liquorice root. To obtain this, the roots of the liquorice plant are ground into chips and boiled down to just below boiling point until the ingredients thicken.

Cooled and dried, the raw liquorice is now usually sent to various manufacturers in block form or as granules. Common basic ingredients for liquorice sweets are raw liquorice, sugar syrup, flour, beeswax, gelatine, starch, agar, anise, fennel oil and pectin. The black colour is usually enhanced with activated charcoal (E 153). Salmiak salt is often added for a more intense flavour.

Flavour

Liquorice have an unusual taste and are therefore often not eaten with pleasure. Most varieties typically taste sugary sweet and extremely salty at the same time. The combination of two completely opposite tastes could be the reason why some love or hate them. Nevertheless, liquorice comes in many different flavours.

Whether as a sweet confection with coconut mass or fruit gum, as a spicy variant with mint or violet aroma or as a hot mixture with pepper, ginger or salmiac: there are practically no limits to the imagination. In Calabria, chocolate, pasta or grappa are also made with liquorice, as a particularly good liquorice quality grows here.

Packaging design

Packaging design and the sustainability of the treats are playing an increasingly important role with consumers today. Here, eye-catching, cool and lovingly packaged liquorice is particularly popular. It is also important that the packaging material is ecologically degradable and thus good for the environment.

Target

Before buying liquorice, it is important to know who will be consuming it and therefore who is the target person. Adult liquorice is different from children's liquorice. Some types of liquorice have a very intense taste. They could be very salty or very spicy and are therefore not suitable for children. Other liquorice are sweet and colourful and appeal more to the children's target group.

Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid liquorice or eat it in very small quantities, as it could affect the development of the child. The ingredient glycyrrhizic acid from liquorice root inhibits the enzyme 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2, which catalyses the conversion of cortisol into cortisone. The consumption of liquorice increases the cortisol concentration in the organism of the unborn child.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about liquorice answered in detail

In this section we explain the most frequently asked questions about liquorice so that you are well informed when you want to buy liquorice.

What is liquorice?

Liquorice or liquorice is a plant species from the butterfly family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. Liquorice is best known as a sweet. Liquorice is also used in teas. Peppermint teas with liquorice flavour or pure liquorice Yogi tea are particularly popular. A tea maker would be perfect for this.

Lakritze

Liquorice root is a valuable plant that not only tastes good in processed form as liquorice, but also serves as a well-known remedy. (Image source: Psaguer/ Pixabay)

Furthermore, liquorice is related to fennel and aniseed and can also be used wonderfully as an ingredient in cooking and baking. A great recipe for this is the raspberry tart with liquorice cream, for which an excellent hand blender would be suitable.

Where does liquorice come from?

Originally, liquorice comes from China, where it is processed and used as a traditional medicinal plant. Over the centuries, liquorice then also reached our latitudes and is cultivated in the European Mediterranean region and processed into liquorice and medicinal products.

What is liquorice good for?

Before liquorice became a well-known sweet, it was a medicine. The sap of the liquorice root was used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians mainly to treat colds and stomach disorders. Today, it is still used as a remedy and is often contained in cough syrup.

Licorice root helps with inflammation, reduces stomach acid and loosens mucus from the bronchial tubes. According to a study by the University of Medical Science, liquorice root has many positive effects:

  • antibacterial
  • expectorant
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory

Today, liquorice root is becoming an increasingly useful medicine and is often used by the pharmaceutical industry for novel medicines.

Why can liquorice be harmful?

Licorice can be harmful if eaten in excess. Health damage such as high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia can be caused.

Some other side effects of eating too much liquorice are:

  • It promotes the excretion of potassium and the absorption of water, thus increasing blood pressure.
  • During pregnancy, a large amount of liquorice can have a negative effect on the embryo.
  • Licorice lowers testosterone levels, which can temporarily lower libido.

It is therefore advisable to enjoy liquorice in moderation. It is recommended to consume up to 50 grams of adult liquorice and up to 100 grams of children's liquorice. In order to be able to deal with the health aspect in more detail, we would recommend you to consult a nutritionist who will give you the best advice.

Conclusion

Whether sweet or salty, pitch-black or colourful - liquorice caters to many tastes. The extract from the liquorice root is just as well known as a snack as it is as a remedy. Nevertheless, the treat should only be enjoyed in moderation to avoid physical damage.

(Cover photo: Natalia Aggiato/ Pixabay)

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