How to make licorice
If you are curious in nature you may ask yourself the question: How do you make licorice? Well, making it is not that difficult. Making delicious licorice is not either. The best licorice ever to make, yes, that’s another story. Very few can do that. As far as we know, there are actually only two people who can: Klepper & Klepper. Read here: Our Licorice Story and find out how we did it.
But nothing is stopping you from trying it too of course. And that is why we at Klepper & Klepper (in the flavors full sweet, mild salt, honey and bay leaf) will tell you exactly how to do it here on this spot! You can get started yourself.
Start with the basics: block drop
All liquorice made in Neerland starts with block liquorice. This is made from licorice root. As you can read in the history of liquorice, the liquorice root grows in dry areas, in sunny countries like Spain and Italy. After growing the licorice roots they make very strong tea out of it. They boil it until it becomes a kind of pulp. This pulp is poured into blocks. These blocks are dried until they are rock hard. This is called block liquorice.
They melt the block drop!
The blocks of block licorice are transported to the Netherlands. Here the block is heated again, until it is liquid. This liquid substance is actually extremely concentrated licorice. It consists of almost 100% licorice and is therefore extremely sweet, fifty times sweeter than ordinary sugar. To make a nice piece of licorice, you do not need that much block licorice per piece.
Making Licorice: What else do you need?
What else you need, of course, depends entirely on the licorice you want to make. But in most licorice you will find at least this:
Gum Arabic comes from the acacia trees that grow in Africa. It is quite rare and quite expensive. If your favorite licorice has gone up in price, it’s often because gum arabic was hard to come by for a while. But you do need it to give it its structure. Gum arabic is a binder and ensures that your licorice is nice and smooth.
- Starch. Potato, corn and/or wheat starch
Like gum arabic, starch is a binder: it keeps your licorice from falling apart. Sometimes it replaces gum arabic in its entirety (is a lot cheaper). Besides binder, starch determines how hard or soft your it becomes. Potato starch makes your it softer, wheat starch harder. So it is important to find a good balance. Note: The Best Licorice Ever is not wheat starch. For in wheat starch are gluten and The Best Licorice Ever is free of gluten.
Like Gum Arabic and starch, gelatin ensures that your licorice does not fall apart. You can also leave it out. Gelatin is made from the skin and bones of mammals. The Best Licorice Ever, for example, contains no gelatin, making the licorice vegetarian.
This is found in most licorice, but not in sugar-free licorice.
- Glucose syrup
This is often used as a substitute for sugar. Glucose syrup does not crystallize, so it does not become hard. This therefore provides a soft texture.
- Salmium salt
Salt of ammonia is also known as ammonium chloride (NH4Cl, in case you want to get started with some test tubes). Salmiac adds extra spice to your licorice. Pure salmiac is a white powder. And not brown, as you might think. But that brown color comes from something else, namely….
If you do not add coloring, it is a bit transparent. But people want them really black. Or really brown. To make them black, you use a carbon called norit (exactly, that’s what you take pills of when you have to go to the toilet a lot, so use it in moderation). And if you want a brown one, you add roasted sugar, better known as caramel.
To give your licorice a unique flavor, you can work with aromas. These are substances that make our taste buds taste what they want to taste. Sometimes you need to give a flavor a little extra push. For example, you can make yours taste like anise without adding anise.
You can also choose not to add the flavor but rather the real ingredient. For example, for The Best Mild-Salted Licorice Ever, we at Klepper & Klepper use Celtic Sea Salt. And for The Best Honey Licorice Ever we use real honey from the Biesbosch. And for The Best Laurel Licorice Ever we use pure bay laurel oil. Of course you can do that too if you want to make licorice, but you can also invent something yourself.
This is an essential ingredient. You can never add too much of this.
And then stir it up
Throw all the ingredients in the right proportions into a saucepan. Stir well so that everything is well mixed. And then pour it into a mold of your choice. At Klepper & Klepper we have plaster molds for this. They give the licorice the right shape. And they have the name Klepper printed on them. So that you immediately see that you have the best licorice ever. Is actually not necessary, because you taste it soon enough.
Pour your licorice into the plaster molds. The trays with the filled plaster molds are placed in a drying room. Then the trick is to find out how long the licorice needs to dry. If you do it too short, your licorice will stay too wet. If you do it too long, then your licorice dries out and becomes rock hard.
Without wax no shine when making licorice
When the licorice is out of their mold, there is still some flour on it. With flour you make sure they don’t get stuck in their mold. In the so-called gloss tunnel, the flour comes off. Next to that, something else goes on it: coconut oil or carnauba wax. This gives it its attractive shine.
When they are shiny, they have to be hardened a bit more before they are packaged. Klepper & Klepper prefer to pack The Best Licorice Ever a little early. Earlier at least than most manufacturers do. The idea behind this: it dries further in the bag. So that, at the time you open the bag and the licorice in your mouth is going to stop, The Best Licorice Ever is exactly right.
Are they in their packaging, then they are ready to come among the people. They will ultimately determine if yours is the best licorice ever. We wish you the best of luck in picking up the answers to the question, How do you make licorice?