This plant has been selected by Pagès for its originality: its sweet and aniseed taste blends perfectly with the flavours of other plants.
Licorice, a perennial plant with a very particular taste.
Origins of liquorice
The Greek and Roman people already used "glycyrhizion", meaning "soft root" in Greek in ancient times, as a cough soothing agent. The famous Hildegard also used it for this purpose. Licorice root was included in Codex for its pectoral properties.
Very refreshing, it also made it possible to prepare a drink universally known as "coconut", which once quenched not only the feverish patients but also many thirsty people. Along with Barley and Quackgrass, Licorice was used to prepare ordinary hospital herbal tea, without any particular purpose, called "good for everything".
While liquorice was used as a medicine as soon as it was discovered, it was also quickly used in the culinary arts as a food. Its sweet flavours were quickly appreciated by the different peoples.
Characteristics of liquorice
Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
Species: Perennial plant
Liquorice is a perennial plant that can measure 1 metre or even 1.50 metres in height. It originates from South-East Europe and West Asia. It is frequently cultivated for its long, creeping woody roots, yellow on the inside, with a sweet, bitter taste. Its upright stems bear leaves composed of many whole leaflets and lilac flowers, with a papilionaceous corolla, gathered in pyramidal clusters in the axils of the leaves. They produce pods containing 3 or 4 brown seeds.
Liquorice root contains starch, sugars, coumarins, isoflavones and saponosides including glycyrrhizin. The latter component has a sweetening power fifty times higher than glucose.
Uses of liquorice
Liquorice can be consumed as an infusion. This requires infusing or cold macerating Liquorice wood in water. It can be used for internal use and therefore be drunk or for external use as a gargle or mouthwash. Liquorice wood can also be added as a sweetener as its tatste naturally referes to sugar.
Also called sap or black sugar, Liquorice juice is obtained by decoction and evaporation. It is then often used to make Liquorice paste or the pastilles and candies found in stores.
Benefits of liquorice
Known to be anti-inflammatory, Liquorice is also used to treat arthritis and certain skin problems. It is also a known mild laxative. Its long-standing indications for cough and bronchitis are still relevant.
It is important to note, however, that excessive consumption of Liquorice may cause high blood pressure.