Liquorice is a hardy perennial with tiny blue flowers and small, oval leaves. The root of this plant is woody and contains the oils and flavour that we associate with black liquorice candy. Alhough not as sweet as the candy, liquorice roots are useful in treating constipation, ulcers and various stomach disorders. It is also a popular ingredient in throat lozenges and herbal teas as a natural sweetener. Preparing liquorice root in your home is easy, although you should always consult a physician before treating yourself with herbs.
Slice liquorice roots into inch-long sections and place them between layers of wax paper. Firmly tap the sections with a hammer until they break into pieces about the size of sunflower seeds.
Pour the liquorice pieces into a stone, cup-shaped mortar. Tamp and grind the pieces in a circular motion with the pestle until the pieces become a fine powder.
Add a half a teaspoon per cup of tea to any herbal mixture. Pour the herb mixture and liquorice into the centre of a cheesecloth square. Tie the cheesecloth into a bundle.
Bring water to a boil in a tea kettle and add the cheesecloth. Remove the kettle from heat and allow the tea to steep for about eight minutes. Pour and sweeten as desired.
Cut liquorice roots into one-inch pieces and scatter in the bottom of a large saucepan. Cover the pieces with room-temperature water and bring the water to a boil.
Turn the heat back to a simmer. Allow the pieces to simmer, testing them with a fork every few minutes. When the fork penetrates easily, remove the pan from the heat and drain off the water, leaving the pieces in the pan.
Mash the liquorice into a paste with the broad end of a wooden spoon. Spread out wax paper on a flat surface. Scoop up small spoonfuls of the paste and drop them onto the wax paper to dry.
Suck on the hardened liquorice pieces like cough drops, or stir them into black tea. Both are very concentrated doses of liquorice. Use with care