Herb to Know: Horehound Cough Drops

Relieve your cough with a bag of homemade horehound cough drops.

| February/March 1993

  • For easy relief, steep horehound for 15 minutes, strain and gargle frequently.

Here is a simple recipe that will fill a sandwich bag with golden horehound cough drops. The honey covers the bitter taste of this aromatic herb. You can also substitute or combine with other herbs, such as mint or sage.

• 1 cup fresh horehound leaves
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• Granulated or powdered sugar, to coat

1. Put horehound in a small nonreactive saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove horehound and squeeze out liquid. Add sugar and honey to pan, stir with a wooden spoon while bringing to a boil, then turn heat down to a gentle simmer. If bubbles threaten to overflow the pan, reduce heat slightly and stir.

2. Boil to hard-crack stage (330 degrees), but even if you use a candy thermometer, test often toward the end of cooking to get the hardness right. Keep a shallow cup of cold water nearby. Stir the liquid occasionally, and watch how it falls from the spoon. When it forms a thread, begin testing for hardness by allowing a drop of the mixture to fall into the cup of cold water. Don’t trust your fingers to examine the now-hardened drop in the cup: bite it. If it’s at all gooey or sticks to your teeth, keep cooking. When it’s hard enough to crack when you bite it, remove pan from heat immediately.

3. If the mixture crystallizes, just add a cup of water and an extra tablespoon of honey to the pan, scrape the crystalline chunks into it and begin again.

4. Lightly butter a candy mold, cookie sheet or other heatproof baking pan, and pour in the hot mixture. If you’re using a flat-bottomed pan, score the surface of the candy after it has cooled enough to become firm. This will help in breaking it apart, which should be done as soon as the candy can be handled.

Dorothy Digregorio-Stevens
1/14/2013 4:54:01 PM

Horehound has great expectorant qualities!

Bobbi Martin
1/14/2013 4:25:35 PM

I want to try making these but I don't understand what you mean here; remove pan from heat immediately. Is this supposed to be BEAT immediately? Also, is there a place online where I can buy horehound leaves?

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