The first to get entrepreneurial aspirations, perhaps after being inebriated by the intense aroma of this plant growing spontaneously and vigorously along the Calabrian coast, appears to have been the Duke of Corigliano, who realized the liquorice plant’s potential for profit in 1715.
What is said, is done. He established a factory soon joined by other similar factories established in Sibaritide by the area’s rich, noble families. A true success (the product even conquered the foreign markets) shaped by the abundance and excellent quality of this root, by the fact that its production soon proved profitable and by the creation of an extensive group of technicians and workers specialized in each of the production phases, from harvesting of the root to production of the extract.
During the 1800s and up to the Second World War, different factors of international scale threw the great Calabrian liquorice production centre into crisis. The crisis was so great that many of the oldest factories fell into disuse and just a few businesses survived. These were the businesses that permitted Liquirizia di Calabria to arrive to the 21st century “safe and sound”.
Today, the legendary Calabrian root is produced in the region’s coastal areas, particularly in the Castrovillari, Corigliano and Rossano territories, and valued across the world not just for its use in different industrial sectors (above all the candy industry), but also for its health benefits. These include its positive action on the respiratory and digestive systems, and its antiinflammatory, healing and thirst-quenching properties.
Liquirizia di Calabria, both the root and its extract, has been guaranteed by the important European label of Protected Denomination of Origin since 2011. It is also sustained by a Consortium bearing its name, charged with its protection and valorization. Its quality is superior to that of other known varieties thanks to the nature of the soil and climate of Calabria, which produce a product with an extremely intense aroma and a flavor that is more sweet than bitter. Its nickname, “Princess of Calabria”, was not earned by accident.
The root is available for sale as chewable sticks, chopped for use in decoctions and teas, or powdered.
The extract, which is obtained by boiling the root in water and concentrating the resulting juice via slow evaporation of the liquid, is sold in many different forms. Both as the root and as the extract, the Liquirizia di Calabria is also widely used in cuisine for dishes of sophisticated flavor and aroma, from appetizers and first course dishes, to second course dishes and desserts.
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