If you’ve ever learned to make hard candy, you already know how to make horehound cough drops! If you have yet to acquire that skill, I can think of no finer time than while making horehound cough drops. Not only will you be learning to do something new, but you’ll experience the empowerment of taking control of your health through homemade medicine making.
I tried growing white horehound from seed and while I can’t for the life of me remember transplanting it, I must have because I found a large beautiful plant growing in one of my beds. I’m glad I didn’t weed it in my absent-mindedness! I’ve since also found it growing wild in meadows near our home so I’ll be able to pick and forage this herb every summer for my family’s homegrown & homemade medicine cabinet.
Horehound’s active ingredients are sesquiterpene bitters, marrubin, volatile oil, tannins, flavonoids, and mucilage 1. These properties aren’t lost in the heating of the herb, a fact you can taste and feel! Horehound is known to be bitter and that’s why you’ll want to not mess around with the sweetener on this recipe. Horehound can’t work on breaking up mucus, soothing your sore throat, and quieting your cough if you can’t bear to have the taste on your tongue.
Purchase dried horehound herb HERE.
The basic steps of making these cough drops include steeping the herb in hot water and then combining the infusion with a sweeter (Horehound is pretty bitter! Trust me you’ll want the sweetener!) and a few other ingredients. Not included are artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, or food dyes. (You know, things that weaken your immune system and general health when you need your body working the best.) You bring the ingredients to a boil and then raise the temperature up even higher. When it has reached the right temperature, pour the liquid into a prepared pan and roll them into balls.
It couldn’t be more simple, could it?
The most difficult part of making your own cough drops is getting the balls rolled before they were too hard to work. You can trust I had a lot of little hands on this project and by the end, we were still snapping a sheet and wrapping the broken pieces. I’m going to try a silicone mini-ice cube tray or candy mold next time. I think that’s a good idea to work around that issue!
Horehound Cough Drops
- 1 cup fresh horehound leaves & flowers, or ⅓ cup dried horehound (Buy it organic HERE.)
- 1 cup honey (Don't waste your raw honey here! It will get too hot to retain any benefits.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- juice from one lemon
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Place the horehound in a mason jar and cover it with a pint of boiling water.
- Steep the horehound for 30-60 minutes.
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter.
- Strain the herb from the water, squeezing the herb to remove all the liquid, and then discard them.
- Pour the liquid into a large stockpot and add the sugar, honey cream of tartar, and lemon juice.
- Bring the liquid to a boil and continue to boil it until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Add the butter.
- Continue to raise the temperature until it reaches 300 degrees and then pour it into the buttered pan.
- Cool the liquid for a few minutes until you can stand to touch it without getting burned. Don't wait too long or you won't be able to get them rolled before they're too cool to mold.
- Pinch off a bit of the candy and roll it into a cough drop sized and shaped ball.
- Wrap it in a bit of waxed paper and store them in the refrigerator until you need them.