Liquorice seed, (Glycyrrhiza echinata - roman liquorice) ,
Perennial plant (shrub), until 2 meters tall. The root is for culinary uses.
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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, asweetener between 30 to 50 times as sweet as sucrose, and which also has pharmaceutical effects.
Liquorice flavour is found in a wide variety of liquorice candies or sweets. In Britain and the US these are usually sweet. In most of these candies the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil, and the actual content of liquorice is very low. In continental Europe however, strong, saltycandies are popular.
In the Netherlands, where liquorice candy ("drop") is one of the most popular forms of sweet, only a few of the many forms that are sold contain aniseed, although mixing it with mint,menthol or with laurel is quite popular. Mixing it with ammonium chloride is also popular, and is known as Salmiak, but mixing it withtable salt creates what is probably the most popular liquorice, known in the Netherlands as zoute drop. 
Pontefract in Yorkshire was the first place where liquorice mixed with sugar began to be used as a sweet in the same way it is in the modern day. Pontefract Cakes were originally made there. In County Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire it is colloquially known asSpanish, supposedly because Spanish monks grew liquorice root at Rievaulx Abbey near Thirsk.
Liquorice flavouring is also used in soft drinks, and in some herbal infusions where it provides a sweet aftertaste. The flavour is common in medicines to disguise unpleasant flavours.
Liquorice is popular in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink. Dried liquorice root can be chewed as a sweet. Black liquorice contains approximately 100 calories per ounce (15 kJ/g).
Chinese cuisine uses liquorice as a culinary spice for savoury foods. It is often employed to flavour broths and foods simmered in soy sauce.
Other herbs and spices of similar flavour include anise, star anise, tarragon, sassafras, andfennel.
It is also the main ingredient of a very well known soft drink in Egypt, called عرقسوس ('erk-soos).
Sticks of liquorice typically have a diameter between two and ten millimetres. Although they resemble plain wooden sticks, they are soft enough to be chewed on. They used to be popular among Dutch, Danish and Swedish children. In Lancashire and Yorkshire in the early 1950s & 1960s, wooden sticks of liquorice, around 8mm diameter, were readily available (and popular) in sweet shops. Also in Essex during late 50s. They were bought as 'sticks of liquorice', and they were chewed by young children. The wood was yellowish, and fibrous when chewed. Liquorice root can have either a salty or sweet taste. The thin sticks are usually quite salty and sometimes taste like salmiak (salty liquorice), whereas the thick sticks are usually quite sweet, with a salty undertone. Liquorice root is also widely available in Denmark. It is also sold by the drugstore and drysalter chain Matas and many greengrocers.