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Back again with another Herb review. This time its about the Liquorice plant, a very pretty looking plant when in bloom. Not really used in cooking here in England but the plant is used in a lot of Asian cooking. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glaba) is also known as Sweetwood, Licorice, and Sweet Licorice ***The Plant*** This plant is native to the Mediterranean and is thought to be grown commercially in Russia, Spain and India on a huge scale. The liquorice plant has been used for over 3000 years and was recorded on Egyptian papyri and Assyrian tablets. The Latin name Glycyrrhiza comes from glykys meaning sweet root. It was introduced to England in the 16th century by Dominican monks and became an important crop. Liquorice extract is produced by boiling the liquorice root and letting the water evaporate, and left is syrup. Be warned the sweetener in liquorice is more then "50 TIMES" as sweet as sucrose, hence why their side effects are pretty strong, liquorice extract can lead to serious kidney problems and Hypokalemia (a potentially fatal condition in which the body fails to retain sufficient potassium to maintain health) Most famous in England is probably the Liquorice allsorts and in herbal tea, its also used in the medicinal world to hide unpleasant flavours. The castle in Pontefract was famous for the growing of liquorice to produce Pontefract cakes, but I find it sad that even today the liquorice used in Pontefract cakes is imported from abroad. ***Species*** A hardy perennial that can grow up to 6 foot in height and spreads 3 foot, with pea like purple and white flowers, with green oval liked shaped leaves. ***Cultivation*** Seeding is pretty hard in out cooler climate and the best way to grow is to use the root division method. Divide the plant when its in its dormant stage, and make sure the root has at least 1 or more buds. Place into pots half full with compost and place the divided plant in, and then fill the rest of the pot up with the compost. Water well and leave somewhere warm until the first shoot come through, harden of then plant outside in early spring. If you are going to do an autumn divide place in a cold frame or greenhouse to over winter the plant. You can divide the plant in spring and in the autumn, in the plants first winter it may need protecting if we have a very cold winter. Liquorice needs a well cultivated soil, and needs to be rich and deep. You can plant pieces of the root, each with a bud on the root, directly into the soil about 6 inches deep and 3 foot apart. Liquorice grows best in hot summers so plant where it will receive as much sun as it can, the roots can be harvested for use from plants that are 3+ years old. Liquorice can be grown in containers, but with the plant growing 6ft and spreads 3 foot its better to be planted in the garden. ***Pests*** Largely pest free ***Medicinal*** Chewing on the root of the liquorice helps to get rid of bad breath; the juice from the root is used to mask unpleasant tastes and provides a soothing remedy for coughs. The dries root when stripped of its bark, is recommended for as a remedy for colds, sore throats and catarrh. Liquorice is also used as a laxative and helps to relieve heartburn, its also very good for stomach ulcers and helps increase the flow of bile and lowers cholesterol levels. ***Culinary*** Liquorice is used as flavouring in the making of Guinness and other beers, and of course Pontefract cakes (now uses imported liquorice). In Chinese cooking liquorice is used as a spice for savoury foods, and is used in broths. ***WARNING*** Large doses of liquorice can cause headaches, High blood pressure and water retention. As with all herbal medicine do your researches before you use it Thanks for reading my reviews, and thankyou for rating them. Tashi Delek (May everything be well) enlightened_one © 2007
Now available in something besides a jelly bean!