Liquorice his one of the most commonly used herbs in Western herbal medicine and has a very long history of use, both as a medicine and also as a flavouring to disguise the unpleasant flavour of other medications.
Requires a deep well cultivated fertile moisture-retentive soil for good root production. Prefers a sandy soil with abundant moisture and does not flourish in clay. Slightly alkaline conditions produce the best plants. The plant thrives in a maritime climate.
Plants are hardy to about -15°c.
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow spring or autumn in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on for their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in late spring or early summer when in active growth.
Division of the root in spring or autumn. Each division must have at least one growth bud. Autumn divisions can either be replanted immediately or stored in clamps until the spring and then be planted out. It is best to pt up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a cold frame until they are established before planting them out in the spring or summer.
Liquorice grows best in deep valleys, well-drained soils, with full sun, and is harvested in the autumn, two to three years after planting.
Liquorice extract is produced by boiling liquorice root and subsequently evaporating most of the water, and is traded both in solid and syrup form. Its active principle is glycyrrhizin, a sweetener between 30 to 50 times as sweet as sucrose, and which also has pharmaceutical effects.
Root - raw or used as a flavouring. The source of liquorice powder that is extracted and used in sweets, baked goods, ice cream, soft drinks etc, it is also used medicinally. A sweet and delicious flavour, but the root is very fibrous. The root contains glycyrrhizin, a substance that is 50 times sweeter than sucrose.
The dried root is often used for chewing, it is excellent for teething children and also as a tooth cleaner. A tea made from the roots is an excellent thirst quencher. The powdered root is also used as a sweetener in other herb teas.
The leaves are used as a tea substitute in Mongolia.