Tag Archives: licorice

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Today’s featured ingredient.

23 Jul

I’ve written a bit on Sassafras, Sarsaparilla, and Gentian within the context of a few recipes, but I have yet to highlight licorice (sometimes spelled liquorice), a common ingredient in all my root beer recipes thus far.  I use it because it adds a potent sweetness to an otherwise sour and bitter combination of herbs.  The amount of licorice in my root beer recipes is probably not going to affect you in a therapeutic dosage kind of way, but it’s interesting to look at it’s effects in the body anyway:

A member of the legume family, the dried root is best gathered in late autumn.  It’s commonly used to soothe bronchial problems such as coughs and bronchitis and is also used for symptoms of stomach distress such as colic, acid stomach, and ulcers.  It’s general actions are expectorant (makes coughs productive), demulcent (soothes mucus membranes), anti-inflammatory (sometimes indicated for disorders like eczema), adrenal agent (boosts the adrenals:  sometimes used in glandular problems such as Addison’s disease), antispasmodic (suppresses muscle spasms), and mildly laxative.

One of the chemicals derived from licorice, glycyrrhizinic acid, is used in Japan for the treatment of hepatitis, and it is commonly extracted for use as a sweetener.  Most commercial licorice candy is usually made with more aniseed than actual licorice.

Because of the way licorice affects cortisol metabolism in the kidney ie. for the same reason it is good for people with Addison’s disease, it is contraindicated for people who have hypertension.  Excessive use of licorice can deplete potassium levels in your body.

licorice root, compliments of naturalherbsguide.com

More Root Beer: an improvement on a theme.

19 Jul

A while ago, I posted a recipe for root beer that contains licorice and sassafras.  This one is decent and nice if you want to keep your ingredients to a minimum, but I was a little unhappy with the licorice overpowering the brew.  Here is my new improved recipe, which calls on a third herb:  sarsaparilla.

Simmer for 20 minutes:

4 c of water

2T dried sassafras root

1t dried licorice root 

2 t dried sarsaparilla root

Let this mixture steep and cool off for about 20 minutes more, then strain it into a 2 quart or slightly larger jar.  Add:

1/3 c evaporated cane syrup (sucanot or rapadura) 

1/3 c maple syrup

4 more cups water

Test the temp.  You should be able to touch the water comfortably– if it’s too hot you will kill your tibicos!  Traditionally they talk about the brew being blood warm or milk-warm.  Add:

1/2 c water kefir grains

Cover your jar with a towel to allow air to come in and flies to stay out.  Leave it out of the way for 2 days, stirring occasionally if you remember.  After two days, taste the brew to make sure it’s fermented enough to your liking.  If you want, leave it another day.  When it tastes ready, bottle it.  Leave the sealed bottles out at room temperature for a day or so, then drink or store in the fridge.  Don’t leave them at room temp too long or they will explode with fizz when you open them!


Old Ways Herbal: Juliette Abigail Carr, RH (AHG)

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