Wild Foraging: How to Make Horehound Cough Drops
When candy shops spelled shop ‘shoppe’ and children saved their nickels to buy candy cigarettes, you could buy unwrapped horehound cough drops covered in powdered sugar. These cough drops were soothing to sore throats and enjoyed as candy. Today, you can find horehound as an ingredient in Ricola cough drops.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is a member of the mint family and native to the Mediterranean. It is a hardy perennial that thrives in dry soil. The plant has a square stem characteristic of the mint family. Its grey/white leaves are densely crinkled and covered with small hairs. The plant’s hardiness has led it to spread throughout the world becoming invasive in some places.
The medicinal use of horehound dates to the first century where ancient Romans used it as an antiseptic. Cultures across the globe have recognized it medicinal properties. Uses have included: treating respiratory ailments and influenza, promoting digestion, as a kidney flush and for treating ulcers and scabs in farm animals.
Use horehound cough drops to treat sore and hoarse throats. These cough drops are bitter, something we are not used to in modern candies. But, once the taste is acquired, like coffee or a bitter beer, it is very pleasing.
Horehound Cough Drops Recipe
- 1 cup fresh foraged horehound leaves (If buying dried horehound leaves use 1/2 cup).
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Pack horehound into a wide mouth canning jar. Pour boiling water into the jar and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- Strain liquid through cheesecloth into a nonreactive large pot. Squeeze all of the liquid out of the horehound. Add the sugar and honey and bring to a boil while occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Continue to boil the mixture until it reaches a hard-crack stage (330°F ). Measure temperature with a candy thermometer or by dropping some of the mixture into a cup of cold water. Take a bite of the hardened drop. If it is gooey keep cooking. When it is hard enough to crack when you bite it remove the pan from the heat.
- Butter a heatproof cookie sheet or baking pan and pour the hot mixture in. After the mixture has cooled enough to touch (but don’t wait too long or it will harden) begin pulling pieces off of it and rolling them in your hands into balls then slightly flatten them.
- Let them cool then store in a moisture proof container.
Note: Pregnant women should avoid using horehound. This post is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.