Herbal Honey Cough Drops

There were so many variations of this recipe when I started searching. As I usually do, I looked at them all then started making modifications to make a cough drop that worked for us. They turned out great without that nasty menthol taste lingering in your mouth forever. Menthol merely gives you a feeling of breathing better. Sucking a peppermint would do the same. It's a cooling feeling and that's about it. I found recipes using sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup and honey. I chose the ingredients for mine based on my knowledge of what each one does.

What good are cough drops? They produce saliva with keeps your throat moist to help alleviate symptoms. Commercially bought cough drops usually contain dyes and other things you can't pronounce. You won't have any of that when you make your own.

Here is the recipe, then I'll post the how to.

Herbal Honey Cough Drops

2 cups water
1/2 - 3/4 cup mixture of your choice of herbs (ideas follow)
1 1/2 cups honey
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (*Cream of tartar is natural, and is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process. It is high in potassium.)

The herbs I used:
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons echinacea
1/2 cup elderberry
2 tablespoons peppermint leaves
1 tablespoon TrueLemon (added vitamin C) but you can use fresh lemon juice in your tea mixture.

Bring water to boil. Add herbs, bring back to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep 1/2 to 1 hour.

Strain through clean old cloth (old because it will stain.)  Squeeze and drain as much as the tea as possible.

In a large cooking pot (it's going to boil up and splash out a bit even in a big pot) add the honey. Pour in 1 cup of the tea and add the cream of tartar. Stir until mixed up a bit but it won't really combine until the honey melts.

Insert candy thermometer. Turn heat to medium high and pull up a chair. If you are like me you might need to sit on your hands for a good while to resist the temptation to stir the mixture anymore.

Let it boil. And boil. And boil. You might start getting a little panicky around 290F. That first smell is the honey beginning to caramelize. You want to get all the way to 300F which is the hard crack stage. This takes a good long while. I didn't time it but it was maybe 30 minutes? I had my burner on high and mine did start getting burned at 298F so I stopped. It still turned out.

After you get the honey mixture started to cook prepare a mold for your drops. Don't have a mold? This is better anyway. Pour powdered sugar into a baking sheet and level out as much as possible.

Find a small object to make indentations in the sugar. Not to close together or they will collapse. (Bottle cap, Bic lighter wrapped in saran wrap...that's what I used, or whatever you think will work for you.) Now go back and watch the candy thermometer.

After it reaches 300F remove from stove and use a ladle to pour the liquid into the powdered sugar molds. Don't worry about drips here and there.
Work fast, it starts getting pretty thick near the end.

Let cool, then turn drops over in the sugar to coat. Place drops in a colander to shake off excess sugar. You could store them without wrapping in an airtight container but I think they would end up sticking together. I just cut squares of wax paper and wrapped them up. This made enough to probably last all winter.

Use the excess tea to make a cough syrup. (Freeze for later use if you like.)

Here is a list of suggested herbs. I just used what I had on hand.

wild cherry bark
echinacea (I cut open organic tea bags.)
pine needles or inner bark
horehound (bitter, use sparingly)
osha root
dandelion flowers or roots
yellow dock root
mullein leaf
marshmallow herb
chicory root
comfrey leaves
holy basil
heal all
peach twig or leaves