Liquorice (confectionery)

Liquorice (British English) or licorice (American English; IPA: /ˈlɪkərɪʃ, -ɪs/ LIK-ər-ish, -iss)[1] is a confection usually flavoured and coloured black with the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. A wide variety of liquorice sweets are produced around the world. In North America, black liquorice is distinguished from similar confectionery varieties that are not flavoured and coloured black with liquorice extract but commonly manufactured in the form of similarly shaped chewy ropes or tubes and often called red liquorice. Black liquorice, together with anise extract, is also a common flavour in other forms of confectionery such as jellybeans. In addition to these, various other liquorice-based sweets are sold in the United Kingdom, such as liquorice allsorts. In addition to the sweet variations typically found in the United Kingdom and North America, Dutch, German and Nordic liquorice characteristically contains ammonium chloride instead of sodium chloride, prominently so in salty liquorice, which carries a strong salty rather than sweet flavor.

Liquorice wheels
Alternative namesBlack liquorice
Main ingredientsExtract of the roots of the liquorice plant, sugar, binding agent (starch, flour, gum arabic, or gelatin)

The essential ingredients of black liquorice confectionery are liquorice extract, sugar, and a binder. The base is typically starch/flour, gum arabic, gelatin or a combination thereof. Additional ingredients are extra flavouring, beeswax for a shiny surface, ammonium chloride and molasses. Ammonium chloride is mainly used in salty liquorice candy, with concentrations up to about 8%. However, even regular liquorice candy can contain up to 2% ammonium chloride, the taste of which is less prominent because of the higher sugar concentration.[2] Some liquorice candy is flavoured with anise oil instead of or in combination with liquorice root extract.[3]


Tyrkisk peber, a Danish salty liquorice by Fazer

During manufacturing, the ingredients are dissolved in water and heated to 135 °C (275 °F). In order to obtain sweets of the desired shapes, the liquid is poured into molds that are created by impressing holes into a container filled with starch powder. The liquid is then dried and the resulting sweets are sprayed with beeswax to make their surface shiny.[4]

Health effects

A Finnish fair special, metre-long liquorice, in various flavours and colours in Jyväskylä, Finland

The liquorice-root extract contains the natural sweetener glycyrrhizin, which is over 50 times sweeter than sucrose. Daily consumption of 50 g or more of liquorice candy for as little as two weeks may increase blood pressure by a small amount.[5] Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, triggering abnormal heart rhythms, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure in some people.[6]

Excessive black liquorice consumption can cause chloride-resistant metabolic alkalosis and pseudohyperaldosteronism.[7] In one particularly extreme case from 2020, where a man from Massachusetts, United States, ate a bag and a half of black liquorice every day for several weeks, this led to death due to chronic high levels of glycyrrhetinic acid, a principal metabolite of glycyrrhizinic acid. The resultant pseudohyperaldosteronism led to hypokalemia so severe that the man suffered a fatal heart attack.[8]

Red liquorice

Red liquorice wheels

In many countries there is also a product sometimes known as red liquorice (red licorice), which is extruded in a way that resembles liquorice strings but is made with flavourings other than liquorice, such as strawberry, cherry, raspberry, or cinnamon. More recently, products have been introduced in a wider variety of colours and flavours, including apple, mango, blackcurrant, and watermelon.

While the common name for these confections has become "red liquorice" or often simply "liquorice", they do not have the taste of liquorice. "Black" in "black liquorice" would formerly have been redundant, and has become a retronym in North America.


Rainbow liquorice twist candy

See also


  1. "Liquorice". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  2. The Dutch manufacturer Meenk offers detailed ingredient lists of its products: regular Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine and salty Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine liquorice candy (in Dutch).
  3. Black Licorice: Trick or Treat? from US Food & Drug Administration, Consumer Updates, 25 Oct 2011.
  4. Perry Romanowski, How Products are Made: Licorice, at
  5. Sigurjónsdóttir, H Á; Franzson, L; Manhem, K; Ragnarsson, J; Sigurdsson, G; Wallerstedt, S (2001). "Liquorice-induced rise in blood pressure: a linear dose-response relationship". Journal of Human Hypertension. 15 (8): 549–52. doi:10.1038/sj.jhh.1001215. PMID 11494093.
  6. Black Licorice: Trick or Treat? from US Food & Drug Administration, Consumer Updates, 25 Oct 2011.
  7. Sabbadin, Chiara; Bordin, Luciana; Donà, Gabriella; Manso, Jacopo; Avruscio, Giampiero; Armanini, Decio (18 July 2019). "Licorice: From Pseudohyperaldosteronism to Therapeutic Uses". Frontiers in Endocrinology. 10: 484. doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00484. ISSN 1664-2392. PMC 6657287. PMID 31379750.
  8. Marchione, Marilynn (23 September 2020). "Too Much Candy: Man Dies from Eating Bags of Black Licorice". AP News. Retrieved 23 September 2020.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.