Liquirizia di Calabria PDO is obtained from cultivated or spontaneous plants belonging to the Glychirrhiza glabra species, deriving from the variety locally known as “Cordara”. The designation refers to Radice Fresca (Fresh Liquorice Root), Radice Essiccata (Dried Liquorice Root) or Estratto di Radice (Liquorice Root Extract).
Before the liquorice root cuttings can be planted, the soil has to be ploughed deeply and the scions of the root cuttings must be reseeded. Catch cropping is permitted in autumn and winter, making it possible to produce roots every three/four years. Any type of work necessary for these crops may be carried out on the soil, provided they do not exceed a depth of 20 cm. Forages, vegetables and legumes can be cultivated alongside the liquorice. Liquorice is a nitrogen-fixing plant that increases the fertility of the soil. Harvesting takes place year-round. Spontaneous liquorice plants, which are wide-spread in Calabria, may also be picked, as they are registered with the responsible control body and therefore part of the Protected Designation of Origin. Explants can be taken from a depth of up to 60 cm. The roots destined to be sold dried are dried in ventilated and sunny outdoor areas, well-ventilated indoor areas, or in ventilated ovens at a temperature not exceeding 65°C, as higher temperatures would modify the characteristics of the product. To extract the juice, the liquorice roots are cut, crushed, enervated and only rinsed with water.
Appearance and Flavour
Liquirizia di Calabria PDO Fresh Root is straw yellow and has a sweet, aromatic, intense and persistent flavour; the Dried Root ranges from deep straw yellow to yellow ochre and has a sweet, fruity and slight astringent flavour; the Root Extract is dark terracotta brown to black and has a bitter-sweet, aromatic, intense and persisting flavour.
The production area of Liquirizia di Calabria PDO is comprised of 210 municipalities, situated at a maximum altitude of 650 metres above sea level, in all the provinces of the Calabria region.
Liquorice is a tradition in Calabria and over the centuries this product of the land and culture has gained increasing importance. There are numerous historical documents demonstrating that this plant was already widely spread and used during the XVII century. By the following century, the cultivations were present throughout the Crati Valley and in large areas along the Tyrrhenian coast.
The Fresh, Dried Root and Root Extract versions of Liquirizia di Calabria PDO are best kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat sources. The fresh root is mainly used to extract the juice, which is recognised for its digestive, detoxifying and antiseptic properties, to name but a few. It is widely used in cooking and in various sectors, including the pharmaceutical, confectionery and herbal science industries.
Liquirizia di Calabria PDO differs from other similar varieties, above all for its chemical-physical composition: the glycyrrhizin content is distinctly lower, as is the sugar content. It also has other components that are beneficial to our psychological-physical well-being, such as liquiritigenin, isoliquiritigenin and licochalcone A, the latter being significantly present.