What is licorice root?
As the name suggests, the licorice root (Glycyrrhizin glabra) is the root of the licorice plant, which is a perennial. It belongs to the butterfly flower family (Fabaceae) and grows in the warm climate of Eurasia, the Mediterranean region, India, China, and Eastern Europe. The plant forms long taproots and an entire underground system of root runners that can grow into new plants.
The plant grows in the warm climate of Eurasia, the Mediterranean, India, China, and Eastern Europe. Either by increasing seeds or by planting them, whereby growing from seeds is more time-consuming. The licorice plant takes three to four years to mature and harvest. Plants grown from offshoots reach maturity in the first year.
Autumn is the time of harvest for the matured plants, then the roots and their outriggers are dug out and cleaned. The root is between 25 cm and 100 cm long, with a diameter of up to 3.5 cm.
What Happens After the Harvest?
Much of the harvest is processed either ground directly or extracted with hot water and evaporated. During the process, a dark extract is created - the well-known licorice. Only a small amount of the root is cleaned and cut to sell it as licorice root. There are also whole sticks in the trade, which is extremely rare. I discovered such stalks only in spice shops in France. My husband knew her from his childhood in Italy, where he chewed for hours.
How do you use licorice root?
In China, they use licorice as a spice. It perfectly rounds off the aromas of fennel and star anise. It refines the five-spice powder from China. You may add some licorice powder to it.
The licorice root is also suitable for seasoning broths. French cuisine and local star chefs rediscover licorice. It is freshly ground and then used to refine sauces, stews, fennel risotto, or salad dressings.
The licorice is also a medicinal plant and is used as a remedy/tea in China and India to treat the upper respiratory tract's diseases.
In Europe, they are mainly used to make licorice.