What we know as a liquorice flavour is the result of the process of boiling the underground stem of the herbaceous plant of the same name. The latter belongs to the Fabacee (or Leguminosae) family, which includes soybean, bean, carob, tamarind, bean etc. among its plant species. The roots of liquorice (whose scientific name is Glycyrrhiza glabra) must undergo a fairly complex process before they can be used for commercial purposes, including extraction, washing, drying, cleaning, grinding and boiling.
The juice extracted at the end is clarified and concentrated until a dark and dense mixture is obtained, which the machines will work for the cutting and shaping operations. In addition to solid products such as candies, liquorice can also be used to produce herbal teas, liqueurs and infusions. Depending on the use (food, cosmetic or curative for example) other substances may be added. A very unusual variant of licorice sweets is the salty one, very common in northern European countries. In particular, candies of this type produced in Finland are called salmiakki and are enriched with ammonium chloride. This type of salt is distinguished by a fairly spicy taste that, added to the sweetish and bitterish taste of licorice, creates a mix that is waiting to be discovered. In its pure form it is a crystal white salt, also used in all other products such as batteries, fertilizers and detergents.
Salty variants of licorice candies are also produced in Iceland, Holland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as in Latvia. The names by which these products are called in their respective languages are linked to the root salmiak (ammonium, in Swedish). It seems that the original recipe has been handed down for generations in the Baltic countries, but it was the Finnish company Fazer that first marketed products called "salmiakki", a term that later became generic. According to some authors, salted licorice originated in ancient Finnish pharmacies as a cough remedy. Depending on the individual manufacturer and the country where they are created and sold nowadays, salmiakki have different tastes, colours and shapes.