Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade herbal cough drops

In the fall we made our annual cough syrups to be ready for cold and flu season.  We made a batch of elderberry-ginger syrup, and the stronger version: sage-horehound-astragalus syrup.  These effective and delicious syrups are made by simmering the medicinal herbs (berries, roots and leaves) for a lengthy time, adding honey and simmering long enough to get a syrup consistency.  We have made these healing syrups for several years with good success, but had never tried cough drops.  That's just what we did today.

Cough drops are made with the same ingredients as cough syrup, but the process is slightly different.  The ingredients are simmered long enough to reach a very hot temperature (over 300F) so everything solidifies into a hard candy.  Inspired by myhealthygreenfamily, here is how we did it - the method is very simple, but you need to be careful of the hot temperatures and work quickly when the candy starts to firm up.

Elderberry-Ginger Cough Drops

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup black cherry juice (no sugar added)
your choice herbal cold and flu tea (we used elderberry and lemon)
3 inches peeled organic ginger root
1/2 cup raw honey
powdered sugar for dipping afterward (or slippery elm powder, as suggested by a friend)

1) In a large pot bring water, juice, herbs and ginger root to a boil.  Set to simmering, and reduce from 2 cups down to 1/4 cup.  Strain the tea back into your large pot.
2) Now heat the reduced tea with the raw honey over low heat.  Do not let this boil over.  Stir constantly.  It will start to foam and bubble, and get extremely hot.
3) Stir constantly until tea-honey mixture reaches just over 300F.  Do not let this burn!  Remove from heat.
4) Pour quickly into candy molds, or onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper that is dusted with powdered sugar.
5) Once cooled, dust each candy with powdered sugar (this helps to keep them from sticking, but is really optional).  Store wrapped in parchment paper or in a glass mason jar.  Keeps one month, or longer if kept in freezer.


  1. I never thought to use a mold before!! I think this is the answer to my problem, as my drops are made flat on a baking sheet and scored later, but rarely with great success (messy and difficult!!). Instead of powdered sugar we use slippery elm powder to roll them in, which we get at the health food store.
    Thanks for the tip!!

  2. I just made some herbal cough drops and I made a layer of powdered sugar and used the small end of a mortar and make indents. Then I poured the hard crack with a spoon into each well. Worked great.