Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Dutch Treats, part 1
Do you want some liqourice?
Me like to talk about this Dutch treat. It is candy. You can have it sweet, with anise or menthol or just loads of sugar on top, or salt. In English it is called liqourice, the Dutch talk about drop. It isn't that hard to pronounce. It is like a drop of water...
Although liqourice - Me will call it drop from now on - is a Dutch treat, the ingredients aren't that Dutch at all!
The typical flavour of a dropje is coming from an extract of the dried roots of the liqourice plant.This bush grows in subtropical areas such as Spain, Italy and China. The roots of the bush can only be harvested every four years, in october. When the roots are carefully dug out of the ground and untangled they are dried in the sun for a couple of days. After that, they go to a factory where the roots will be chopped, cleaned and made to some kind of thick porridge with water. This porridge, called pulp will be filtered and with some other ingredients, it will be made thicker. Then this mass is poured into blocks. This socalled ‘blokdrop’ (liqourice in the form of a square) is the main ingredient of drop.
To make a real nice and tasty, bendable piece of drop, people use Arabic gum. It is some kind of resin from the acaciatrees. These can be found in Sudan, Senegal and in the riversideareas of the Nile. Arabic gum gives drop its softness and chewability. The more gum is added, the softer the drop gets. During the oilcrises in 1973 there was a shortage of Arabic gum. The Dutch weren’t happy about that, so the Dutch dropindustrials started to find another ingredient, that worked the same. They found it in a modified starch. These days it is very common in drop and other candy. It is cheaper – and that is something Dutch people like – and it doesn’t interfere with the taste and flavour of the drop!
The biggest part of a piece of drop consists of sugar. The blokdrop is very bitter, because it is concentrated so much. With sugar or honey a sweeter taste is made. Without salt, you have sweet drop or honey drop. But, the Dutch love salt drop. They even like it double salted! Normal kitchensalt isn’t added though, but salmiak. It will not increase the bloodpressure, like normal salt can do.
Drop has a brown color and is a little transparant. To make drop black we need other ingredients. Like carbondioxide (what is used in Norit) or carmel. They will color the drop in a natural way.
To get different forms, the blokdrop is melted, then salmiak, sugar, honey or other ingredients are added. The melted goo will be 'dropped' in little forms, that are made in sandlike material. Then the drops dry, harden and voilá you have a nice treat!
Different flavours are achieved during the process, by adding mint or anise or other spices to the drop. A famous flavour – which is a bit spicey and acquires a acquired taste – is the laureldrop. Did you know: the Italian farmers used to put laurel leaves in between the pieces of blokdrop, so the pieces wouldn’t stick to each other. Blokdrop can be very sticking while it is drying. The flavour and scent of the laurel leaves are drawn into the drop. And so you have laurel drop! No sugar or arabic gum added though...
So next time you eat some drop or liqourice, you know where it came from. Have a nice snack! Mjamjamhammmmm... Ah! Delicious.
Later, me will tell about other Dutch treats. Byebye for now!