When writing about Dutch food there is one sweet that simply cannot be forgotten: drop! A literal translation would be liquorice, but there are so many types, it’s not just pure liquorice. Even though you can buy liquorice outside of the Netherlands, you cannot buy drop. Drop is just different from liquorice, it’s hard to describe properly, it just is.
Drop is a very interesting product though tastewise. Whereas a lot of Dutch people like drop, I’ve barely met a foreigner who likes it as well. I’ve brought drop to a lot of foreigners, but most just politely say that it’s not really their taste… (in other words, not worthwhile trying again). Somehow I had expected they might not really like it, but dislike it? I have always liked it since I was a kid…
Drop can be both salty or sweet, although both contain quite some sugar. There are a lot of different textures and types as you might see in the photo above this post.
So what makes drop drop? Some package inspections learned me that the main ingredient of drop is sugar, or some sort of sugar syrup. Drop will also contain starches of something like gelatin to firm up the sturture. However, that’s not what makes drop drop. These merely provide the structure of the sweet (a little bit like a gummy bear, but then different, it melts away different).
The main taste is provided by two other ingredients: liquorice root (zoethoutwortel in Dutch) and sal ammoniac (salmiak in Dutch).
Liquorice root is a relatively common ingredient. It is used in very foods and especially candies throughout the world. However, sal ammoniac is far less common which is why we’ll dive into that one a little more.
Sal ammoniac sounds very chemical and as far as I know the only other place it’s used frequently is in Scandinavia. There they sell salmiak candy as well, which is probably even more intense than the Dutch versions! However, since it often lacks the liquorice and the texture, it is different from drop.
Sal ammoniac is a salt and can be described by the following chemical formula: NH4Cl. I couldn’t find a lot of information on sal ammoniac besides the formula and the fact that it is also used for making jewelry. Candy seems to be one of the few applications in food, if not the only one.
This interesting food product is definitely something you should try when you’re in the Netherlands (if you’re not Dutch of course)!