Sunday, 11 August 2013

Organic Licorice and Chocolate - For Medicinal Purposes, of Course!

On our Road Trip, Tom and I did a day trip to the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory.   It has been a favorite tourist destination for many years and featured on an old video of Australian train journeys that Tom played repeatedly when he was pre-school age.  It was a must see destination and also an easy couple of hours drive for Tom along some pretty rural (read bumpy, pot holes, lose gravel) roads from where we were staying for the week.

The factory is located in an old flour mill in Junee, NSW and is operated by Green Grove Organics.  Owned by the Druce family since 1918.  In 1962 Green Grove Organics became one of Australia's first organic farms and holds a Level A Certification.  They are world renowned.

All the ingredients used in the making of the licorice, chocolate and confectionery at the factory are certified organic products.  Even the wheat grown by Green Grove Organics is ground by a modern day stone mill for use in the making of the licorice, flour and bread mixes.

I did do a recording of the tour but being my non techy self, somehow i lost it so i will have to give you what i remember and even then, i am disadvantaged by the middle aged muddle that is going on up stairs.

I believe, that there are four main ingredients in licorice:

Root Powder from the licorice plant root - this comes from California as there are no certified organic licorice plant growers in Australia.  I tasted a sprinkle of the powder and it starts out slightly salty and then the aniseed flavor really hits you on the tongue.   I was smiling away politely through the presentation while my tongue was doing a slow burn.

Organic Wheat or Spelt - grown on the farm. .


Molasses - this is what makes it black.

All the ingredients are mixed in big vats.  These could  be seen through glass windows.   The workers were simply going about their business as we gawked on.  It is then cooked and sent to the extruder which kneads it and makes it into long tubes about as thick as a 20 cent piece.  It shrinks as it cools and by the time it reaches the "Chopper" is the thickness of a 5 cent piece.

They were not running the machines when i did the tour but they were in operation when i first arrived. There was this massive stomp stomp stomping going on and as shown below long tubes of licorice where chopped into smaller pieces by a large guillotine, manually separated and dusted with flour to keep them that way.

Who need medicine?   There was previously thought to be a link between men with low libido who ate licorice but you can put that one to bed, so to speak, as there is now research to show that there is no connection.  Just don't show her your black tongue before going in for a smooch.

The chocolate is produced in Germany and they use all of the cocoa bean rather than adding other ingredients.  It is smooth and dark and maintain all its nutrients and is therefore good for your health, especially when it is organically produced.  

Now doesn't every woman know the health benefits of a piece of chocolate.  It reduces stress and invokes calmness.  At least until the kids start begging for their share.  It has been used for thousands of years as both a sexual stimulant and a soothing balm.  The existence of theobromine in organic chocolate stimulates the kidneys and the central nervous system and boosts the immune system.  The seratonin lifts the mood and gives you a sense of euphoria and the presence of magnesium, iron and niacin release energy to the body. All sounds good good good to me.   They should prescribe this stuff as medicine rather than anti-depressants.

The chocolate is first melted into a thin syrup in a big vat above and it then trickles down into the following mixer that contains the licorice.  As it turns the licorice is coated many times.  Before they purchased this beast it was done by hand and they had to run a night shift to meet demand.

Just above the white barrier you can see the coated licorice - thousand upon thousands of chocolate bullets.  Do not even imagine that these resemble anything like the generic bullets you buy at the supermarket.  I gave one to my Bestie tonight and she literally swooned.  First they are massive, you would only eat two or three at a time, and then they are so so fresh and soft.
They still do hand mixing and so beside this one are three copper mixers.  One for white, milk and dark chocolate.   We watched a worker pour a jug of dark chocolate over the turning licorice and were surprised to learn that he would do this 33 times, waiting 2 minutes between coat, before they were finished.

Even after the final coating they are given another coat of organic polish (i cant remember from which tree it came from) to keep the product shiny and also to adhere the chocolate to the licorice so it didn't flake off.

The next room along was the bar and confectionery room where all those wonderful blocks of chocolates with nuts, muscat raisins etc were added were made.
Giant Freckle anyone???

Chocolate Bars
Rocky Road with so many different extra's i just couldn't decide on one, so i didn't.

Smash Cakes  - these are like pinatas - you smash them and they are full of licorice and chocolates.

We did quite a bit of shopping at the store.  We got a few items as presents for Dad/Hubby's birthday, another bag as a thank you gift for our hosts for the week and another for my work crew.  I was almost embarrassed walking out with so much.  I bought myself a small box of chocolate coated coffee beans.

Graze Restaurant

Now, not finished yet, so don't turn off.   This place has the most wonderful restaurant and Tom and I had lunch.  Wait for it, because you are going to like it.    I ordered the following and loved it so much i just had to speak to the Chef and get the recipe.

Roast Sweet Potato, Ricotta & Macadamia tart

Now this was truly a crime - Tom took a Lamb Burger, with Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar, Aoli and Chorizo jam and turned it into a Cheeseburger - i still had to pay the $17.50 for it but those beer battered chips were really really crunchy.  

Chef Phillip

500gm of Sweet Potato cooked until soft (can be broken apart) but not mushy.

500gm of Ricotta

3 Eggs

1 Teaspoon of Nutmeg - Phillip said that this could be changed to whatever spice you liked but it must be aromatic.  I could definitely smell the nutmeg.

Salt & Pepper.

Top with crushed Macadamia nuts mixed with unsalted butter and salt to taste.

Bake like a quiche.  Skewer must come out clean when ready.  I would have like a little more detail but i think i could muddle my way through.

We found ourselves a seat next to a fire, it was freezing .

While we were waiting we noticed a photographer and a few hangers on that were walking around with plates of food.  I spoke to them later and found that they were from the NSW Tourism Board and were doing a profile on the factory and restaurant.   I took some photo's of my own and you can see it is a place of character.

All the train memorabilia come from the old mill being next to the railway line.  Junee is a historic rail town with a junction and roundhouse still used to recondition locomotives today.  There is a rail museum in town with carriages and engines you can climb into.  

NSW Tourism Board photographer doing food porn.  

Do you think they were handing out licorice and chocolate - seems to cure everything.  

Very Comfortable  - NOT

OK, this is my photographic moment, i love this picture.  Shot with my iphone through an old window frame.  Looks very Tuscan and I'm pretty chuffed with it.  
You can go now and thanks for sticking with me.  If you ever find yourself wandering around the NSW countryside then pop into Junee and have a lovely lunch, tour and then shop till you drop.  Oh,  on the web link above (Green Grove Organics) you can buy online.   It really is worth it and i will never buy a packet of "dead" licorice again.

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz


  1. I feel like I have been there what a fantastic post, now I would love to visit there and do some taste testing. That sweet potato quiche looks lovely might have to try that out.Looks like it was a great day out x

  2. Ohhh I wish I lived closer. That looks amazing. I love licorice.

  3. What a great bonding trip for you both :). Licorice is apparently easy to make...

    and a red cherry one in case someone in your family doesn't like anise

    Cheers for sharing your roadtrip with us :)


Please leave a comment. I enjoy making connections with my readers. Hope you enjoyed your visit.