In the spring of 2013, Ihsan and I decided to visit Sweden, Denmark and Norway on a quest for new and delicious foodstuffs. We assumed that we would find lots of pickled herring, canned fish, lingonberry jams, rye crackers and licorice. Overall, we did well, bringing back several new items to the shop.
With all of the recent excitement about Copenhagen as a food destination and enthusiasm over the restaurant Noma, I thought that Copenhagen would be my favorite place we visited. Consequently, I was surprised at how much I loved Stockholm. Stockholm’s city center consists of 14 islands connected by 50 bridges. I was won over by the picturesque waterways, the medieval architecture, museums, the people and, of course, the food. Another surprise – we found ourselves buying and eating lots of licorice. I ate Twizzlers as a kid and can’t say I’ve had much along those lines since.
Ihsan and I knew that salty licorice was peculiar to Scandinavia and we were eager to try it – once we did, we were hooked. Our favorite licorice was that made by Lakritsfabriken, which literally translates to mean “licorice factory.” Turns out, this is a relatively new company started in 2011 by Martin Jorgensen, using completely natural ingredients. It contains none of the hydrogenated fats, gelatins and refined sugars you find in other licorice and, to take it a step further, Martin uses rice flour instead of wheat flour, making his licorice gluten-free.
Scandinavians in general say the “saltier the better.” I happen to find Martin’s salty licorice on the milder side, just enough sweet and salt, soft and chewy. Perfectly balanced. You don’t get that puckered reaction that can come from too much salt, even if you are not used to the famous salty licorice of Scandinavia. Actually, salted licorice does not have any salt added – rather, it is ammonium chloride that gives the licorice its distinct flavor.
So popular is salty licorice in Martin’s part of the world, we found it used in everything – from caramels (we’re still trying to bring those in), to coffee, to ice cream, to cocktails, to chocolates. We carry small 40-gram boxes of Lakritsfabriken’s licorice in both Sweet and Super Salty if you’ve never had it before and would like to try it before you get a larger 150-gram pack – available in Sweet or Salty. We also carry Lakritsfabriken’s raw licorice, mini licorice roots and licorice syrup in our shops – ideal for incorporating licorice into your own baked goods, chocolates or cocktails. Enjoy!
Valerie Gurdal is the owner of Formaggio Kitchen South End in Boston, MA.