Liquorice is a very popular confectionery. Annually 32 million kilo liquorice is consumed in the Netherlands, but the production is even much higher. Dutch liquorice is exported to all over the world.
|Production process of Dutch liquorice|
|Extract from the roots of the liquorice plant|
|Dissolving block liquorice|
Dutch liquorice is distinct from liquorice of other (European) countries because of the use of the salt ammonium chloride (old Latin: sal ammoniac which became salmiak). Therefore, the German ‘Lakritzen’, English ‘liquorice’, Italian ‘liquirita’ and French ‘réglisse’ have a completely different taste. Scandinavian liquorice also contains ammonium chloride and therefore this kind of liquorice is most close to the Dutch liquorice.
The production process of Dutch liquorice is mentioned below. The composition of liquorice varies per kind of liquorice.
To obtain the liquorice roots the liquorice plant is carefully dug up after four years of growth. The roots may go 4 meters deep under the ground. When the plant is dug up part of the roots is cut off. The plant is replanted and can undisturbedly grow for a year. The roots that are cut off are dried in the sun to avoid the growth of mould. Afterwards the dry roots are ground, frayed and made to pulp together with water. This pulp is filtered and concentrated. The concentrated extract is poured into blocks and is dried. The final product is appropriately called ‘block liquorice’.
gelatin and modified starch or gum arabic are put in a kettle.
In some kinds of liquorice gum arabic is still used. Gum arabic is a kind of resin from the acacia tree. It gives liquorice its typical gumminess. During the oil crisis of 1973 there was a gum arabic shortage. Modified starch appeared to be a good alternative. Besides that, it was much cheaper than gum arabic. Therefore, modified starch is used in most kinds of liquorice.
sugar and glucose-fructose syrup also influences the structure. In general, liquorice contains 30-60% sugar and glucose-fructose syrup.
pressure through a narrow room or tube. There is more information about homogenizing under ‘technology’ in the left menu.
temperature of the mixture is still high. The temperature has to be low before the final ingredients are added. With high temperatures the ingredients are damaged, which changes the flavor and smell. In cooling the mixture the added water is released as steam. This steam is released. The mixture that is obtained is called dough because the material coherence is comparable to the dough of cookies.
cooling down the dissolved block liquorice (3%), the salt ammonium chloride and possible coloring and flavoring agents are added to the dough. For sweet liquorice 1% of ammonium chloride is added, for salt liquorice this percentage is 4-5%.
These shapes are made by sprinkling an even layer of corn starch powder on a plate. This layer is 1-2 centimeters. On the powder a hard plate (of for example plaster) with candy shapes is pushed so that the shapes of these candies is put into the flour.
Corn starch has the capacity to absorb and transfer liquid without changing the shape, instead it retains its shape. Besides that, it curbs a too fast hardening of the liquorice, which is not wanted. Another advantage is that after the candies dried they can be easily taken out of the powder. After this the corn starch can be used again.
The process of casting happens completely automatically. A dosing machine casts exactly the same amount of mixture in each of the shapes.
drying process goes to fast and the liquorices may crack.
vegetable oil or beeswax. By turning the drum the brightener is divided equally. In the same way a layer of sugar or liquorice powder can be put on the liquorices. But first a humid layer of brightener should be put on. This makes sure that the powder layer does not fasten well enough or come loose.
Due to the high percentage of sugar and because of this a low aw, the liquorices have micro-biologically an unlimited storage life. However, liquorice can dry out etc. In a closed package the storage life of liquorice is more than a year.