Salt

Food Stories

Swedish Salty Licorice

By Suzannah Schneider | August 15, 2014

Image by /kallu
Image by /kallu

Image by /kallu

It’s unfathomable to most, coveted by some. Enthusiasts keep an emergency stash of the stuff in their purse; others take a nibble and promptly spit it out. It elicits passion, nostalgia, pain, discomfort, and satisfaction.

Ah, yes, Swedish salty licorice.

Swedish candy is notoriously fantastic, but salted licorice is the black sheep of the otherwise delectable family of gummy sweets. The stuff is potent and undoubtedly polarizing.

Licorice itself is the root of a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra that is native to Spain, Italy, and Asia. The plant contains a component that is 20-40 times sweeter than sugar, so it is logical flavoring option for candy.

No one quite knows how or why licorice candy was first combined with a salty flavor, but its history as a confectionary began in Scandinavia in the 1930s. Salted licorice, however, doesn’t actually contain any salt. The brininess comes from the chemical ammonium chloride, so salted licorice is often called salmiakki, the Finish word for ammonium chloride. Modern salty licorice ranges in color from light brown to deep black, and it may be chewy or hard. Salted licorice is popular in Sweden, of course, as well as The Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and Germany.

What is so enticing about salted licorice for Scandinavians? Consider the classic dishes gravlax or pickled herring. Bitter saltiness is deeply embedded in Scandinavian cuisine and home cooking, so a salty flavor is intertwined with notions of comfort and home. Curing meat and fish with salt during the long winter months is standard practice for many Scandinavians in past and present time, so an affinity for salt is deeply rooted in the Scandinavian palette.

On the other hand, salty licorice could merely exist as national entertainment. Many Scandinavians admit to enjoy feeding salty licorice to tourists just to watch them squirm. Some say it’s almost a national sport!

Most Swedes consume salted licorice as typical candy, but many also enjoy Turkish Pepper Shots, which are hard salted licorice popped into a shot of vodka. If you’re hooked to the flavor, it’s easy to want to infuse everything with salmiakki. However, too much licorice can cause a spike in blood pressure, so be careful not to overdo it.

Salty licorice is a unique treat for a large part of the world. It acts to demonstrate the diversity of global food preferences and the fascinating ways in which tastes are formed through the forces of climate, culture, and ecology.

Have you ever tried salty licorice? What was your experience like?

 

Back to Basics

4 Types of Salt and How to Use Them

By Tawnya Manion | September 12, 2013

Photo: QuintanaRoo

Marcus likes to mix things up when he’s cooking by throwing surprise flavors into traditional dishes. However, he never denies,  knowing the basics of preparing food is the first step to learning the art of cooking. That’s why in this post I want to get back to basics and explain the differences between the varying salts on the shelves of your local grocery store. Here are four different easy-to-find varieties, with tips on what they are and when to use them.

Read More

News

Why Bread Might Be the Cause for Your High Blood Pressure

By Justin Chan | February 16, 2012

Photo: kidmissile

Photo: kidmissile

Many Americans consume more sodium than they know. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that claims that nine out of 10 Americans eat too much salt.

According to the report, the average person consumes around 3,300 milligrams of sodium daily. The figure, which does not include the amount of added salt to a meal, exceeds twice the recommended intake for half of Americans. Those who are 51 and older, African-American or have high blood pressure or kidney disease are advised to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

Sodium is responsible for increases in blood pressure and has been responsible for numerous health problems, including strokes and heart disease. In fact, the effects of high consumption of sodium go beyond health-related issues. The country reportedly spent approximately $273 billion in health care money on such health problems in 2010. Read More

News

Salty Consequences: Americans Consuming Far Too Much Salt

By Dylan Rodgers | December 6, 2011

Photo: Tattooed Tentacle

Pop quiz:  What is the one ingredient to most any food that everyone worldwide can agree is necessary?  I’ll give you a hint-it’s the 6th most abundant compound on Earth.  Still perplexed?  Here’s another-it begins with an “S” and ends in “alt”.

Salt makes everything taste better; it preserves foods; it’s essential for normal bodily functions.  There’s only one problem:  humans consume way, way too much of it.  In fact, according to a CDC report, Americans consume almost 90 percent more sodium than the body actually needs and at least twice as much as the highest recommended level. Read More

News

Flavors Of Salt

By mahir | January 17, 2011

Salt may get a bad rap for health reasons, but to me, it’s incredible that this naturally occuring element is the basis of flavor for so many good dishes.  For a seemingly mediocre meal, add a dusting of fine sea salt and the food tastes infinitely better. Read More

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