The cold weather of winter months can take their toll on our immune systems and respiratory systems so I thought it would be nice to give out a little something to family and friends that will help ease the havoc caused by winter air! This recipe contains an assortment of herbs that are believed to have immunity boosting properties, as well as powers to soothe specifically in the respiratory system. When I found the recipe from My Healthy Green Family, I was further inspired by the idea that these homemade cough drops are (mostly) natural, and can be made on a purely organic basis (though I made a few changes for my own.)
Honey Herbal Cough Drops
Adapted from My Healthy Green Family
• ¾ cup Honey
• 3 inches ginger root
• ½ teaspoon of peppermint oil (strictly of food grade. I used a flavoring made of 91% Peppermint oil in the candy/baking section. Therapeutic grade is much stronger, use only 5-7 drops)
• Herbal tea (I chose loose leaf Chamomile tea)
• ½ cup white sugar
• 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
What You’ll Need:
• Heavy bottomed pot
• Candy thermometer
• Silicone candy molds/heavy plastic candy molds (specifically tempered for hard candy, and high heat)
• Metal whisk (I actually used three wooden skewers, for easy clean up)
• Cooking spray
• Wax paper
Start by filling your heavy bottom pot with 2 cups of water. Plop in the ginger and loose leaved tea (or bagged tea). I wasn’t concerned with how much tea was in the mix, because chamomile tea is rather mild— should you choose a stronger tea (any black tea, for example), consider how it might affect the taste.
Bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium-high heat until the liquid has boiled down to ½ cup or so. Strain the tea and ginger from the liquid. Replace over medium-high heat, add honey, and white sugar.
At this point, place the thermometer into the pot, securely. Once the pot reaches 225° the water has boiled out of the mixture. This liquid is extremely hot, please be careful while you stir with the whisk (or wooden skewers), to keep it from boiling over. The temperature will rise rapidly from this point on. Fill a glass of water and set it to the side of the pot.
When the temperature reaches 300°, raise the whisk from the mixture, and hold the whisk over the glass of water, so a few droplets fall into the water. You will see that the drops fall like rocks into the water. In my opinion, this is the surest way to tell that when cooled, you will have hard candy. Remove the pot from heat, add the peppermint oil, and stir briskly with the whisk or skewers. The impurities from the oil will burn and vaporize as you stir. The mixture will soon return to a liquid, set aside for just a moment.
I placed my candy mold on a cooking sheet, in order to catch any runoff, as well as to stabilize the mold to move it while cooling. Spray a light film of cooking spray over the candy molds. Gently poor the cough drop mixture over the candy mold, evenly. If necessary, use the backside of a spoon to even out the liquid between the forms in the mold. Allow the candy to cool overnight*.
*In high humidity, a la Florida, allow the candy to cool only about 3 hours before starting the next process. Otherwise, the candy will begin absorbing moisture from the air, and will become sticky.
Remove the hardened cough drops from the molds; then if you have one like mine, break apart into individual lozenges. Wrap each individual cough drop into strips of wax paper and twist at both ends.
Place in your favor box, and pretty it up with a personalized Chalkboard Label with the lovely herbal-looking flowers on it, and gift them to everyone you know! These cough drops are fantastic for even the faintest of dry or irritated throat and airways.
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