When most Americans think of licorice, they think of the twisty candy that is either black or red in plastic bags, or the black jelly beans that many people pick out and toss. But if you are a true licorice aficionado, then you know there is much more to licorice than the fake stuff. Who knows real licorice? The Finns for one.
Whenever our cousins from Finland come to visit, it is fairly certain they will be bringing along two things: Fazer chocolate and licorice, both in many forms. When cousin Eeva-Kaisa handed me this adorable Finnish bag filled with Finnish goodies, I knew there would be both – even one that was a combination of chocolate and licorice. It was very timely the visit happened to be this week when it was National Licorice Day.
The little boxes are small pieces of chewy licorice about the size of a button, but not a chewy consistency like our twisty licorice that is actually not true licorice at all but anise oil. The Finn ones almost taste medicinal but in a good way. Hard to describe. The Salmiakki is a chocolate bar divided into bite-sized pieces and each piece contains a liquid licorice center. Heaven for licorice and chocolate lovers.
The bottle contains Salmiakki in liquid form but this time it is 32% Vodka mixed with salty licorice. That’s it, just Finnish vodka and Finnish licorice. The real things. I have never seen this particular brand anywhere in this country. It also happens to be produced not far from where many of our cousins live.
I told cousin Eeva-Kaisa that I wanted to take her photo holding a couple of the products down in the Culinary Cellar by the Scandinavian and Nordic cookbooks. She loved that I have a whole shelf of them.
Not only does licorice taste amazing and different, but it has so many qualities that make it so unique. The Chinese consider it a superior balancing and harmonizing agent added to herbal formulas for soothing coughs reducing inflammation, cold sores, canker sores, and healing ulcers. One study in Ireland showed a licorice extract to be a better symptom reliever than prescribed medications for ulcer patients. Licorice is a good source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, and contains minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon, and zinc, and phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, glycyrrhizin, glabridin, phenol, ferulic acid, and quercitin.
Go celebrate National Licorice Day today even if you can’t the find the Finnish products. Just make sure it’s the real thing because there is nothing like it.