A few years ago, my husband and I started making our own simple herbal remedies to be more involved in our family’s health. We like to provide for ourselves, and we like to know exactly what is going into our children’s bodies – who doesn’t??
Apparently we are not the only ones, as in the last few months we have started getting a lots of interest in our herbal recipes, so I’m sharing a new recipe that my husband and I developed this month to get ready for the flu and cold seasons – herbal cough drops, or herbal lozenges. Call them what you like, these are a family friendly, budget-friendly, do it yourself alternative to the little drops you can buy at the store.
My husband LOVES those Ricola brand cough drops, so he wanted to make a recipe that was chock full of herbs like these reputable herbal lozenges. I, on the other hand, HATE that brand of cough drops. But I love mixing up new recipes.
To the instructions, Batman!
We’re going to make this very simple.
Something to grease your candy mold with
Stock pot (soup pot, basically anything you can boil in)
Candy Molds (somewhat optional)
Candy thermometer (somewhat optional)
Can it really be that simple? Well, yes, this is the basic recipe. Of course to get the benefits of the herbs, you need to customize a recipe, adding specific herbs for your situation, other additives with positive healing properties
First Step – Tea
First, take a quantity of water that will be about twice as much as you want to use for your lozenges. In the processing of steepig the tea, you will want to boil off about half of the water. Hubby and I wanted to make a large batch, so we started with 4 cups of water.
If you already have herbal tea on hand that matches what kind of lozenge you want to make – great! You can use regular herbal tea bag to great effect. We used a combination of tea bags from the grocery store and loose leaf herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. If you want to use loose leaf herbs, you can use a strainer like this one. For some leaves that don’t have sharp pieces, you could just leave the leaves in with the tea – that is what hubby and I did.
One important herb that we added, because we wanted ours to be a throat soothing tea, was Slippery Elm Bark. Slippery Elm Bark is mucilagenous, which is a big word that means goopy (slippery, you know?). When I use Slippery Elm Bark, it makes my throat feel very soothed and takes away itchy dryness. So I use it anytime I am making a mixture for my throat. I’ve heard that it can always be used to soothe the digestive tract in the same way for the same reason – I haven’t tried that yet. I get mine in powdered form here. It’s not very expensive and one bag lasts me for quite a few batches. I do not strain it out, I leave the powder right in my tea.
Another thing that you can add to your tea, which my hubby added to the first recipe is lemon zest or orange zest. I have been told that these are high in vitamin C. Be careful to wash your peels carefully before zesting them (we used the small side of a cheese grater).
After you have boiled down your tea, remove the bags or the strainer, pressing on the leaves to get all the juice out.
Measure out the liquid that you have left. Pour it back into your pan and add an equal amount of sugar. My husband likes to use Raw Sugar and that will work fine. We also added honey. Usually I prefer raw honey for its health benefits, but since we are about to boil the crap out of it, you will lose the health benefits that come from using raw honey. Where we live, raw honey is much more expensive, so for this recipe I just use regular honey.
I know what you’re thinking. A bunch of sugar, really? But a substitute for sugar will not make a lozenge, and you will find that the store bought lozenges are full of sugar and corn syrup. They are essential a hard candy acting as a delivery system for menthol. Yours will be a hard candy acting as a delivery system for healing teas, and you will be controlling everything that goes into them. That feels much better, right? If you dont feel comfortable with sugar, then I would recommend making hot tea instead and add the sweetener you love or none at all.
So bring the sugar-tea mixture to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Then stop stirring – no more stirring – and put in your candy thermometer. Let the sweet-smelling mixture boil away until it reaches 300 degrees farenheit. It’s going to take awhile. Our burner s pretty weak and it took about 40 minutes. The first time we made the recipe, it felt like it was going to take FOREVER. Just keep your eye on it, and keep in mind that once it gets past a certain point it will start to move fast, so don’t leave it alone.
While its boiling, grease your candy mold. The first time we made them we used a cheap plastic mold we got at A.C. Moore for $1.99. The one we got was shaped like candy bars (as you can see from the picture of the final product.) We stored them as large bars and broke off a piece at a time as we needed it – we actually broke a bar off, then broke the bar in half for a perfect sized lozenge. These have held up OK for now, but the extreme heat of the lozenge mixture is slowly melting the mold and the next batch we do with them will probably be the last – we are going to order one of several small silicone ice cube trays from Amazon and see how that goes. I will update this entry after we’ve actually tried it. I put a picture here of the tray that had really intrigued me and seems to be perfect for this purpose,
Once it hits 300 degrees, you can begin to spoon it into the greased molds. Once they are cooled (we cooled ours in the fridge) it is advisable to roll them in powdered sugar or something similar – this will keep them from sticking together. I’m sure you can find some very creative ways to package them – Mountain Rose has really gorgeous tins and if you use them, get the largest size, the small ones are very, very small and nice for things like homemade salve or lip balm (I’ll be blogging those recipes VERY soon, my salve is HEAVENLY) – but we used small ziploc bags. and kept them cool in the fridge.
I will be blogging a few of our favorite recipes soon, but for now I wanted to share the basic recipe that we used for our first few batches.
We used –
3 bags of Lemon-Ginger tea from the grocery store Lemon has always been recommended to me for sore throats, and when I was a girl and used to sing in church, I would always have HOT lemon tea to get my throat ready.
4 Tablespoons of honey – honey is wonderful for soothing a rough throat
3 bag of pure chamomile tea – chamomile is reputed to have immune boosting benefits and is very calming
Zest and juice from one lemon
Slippery Elm Bark from Mountain Rose Herbs (as explained above)
But remember – you can use any herbal teas you are interested in – browse the tea section at your grocery store or your favorite herb shop online – what benefits would you like to put into your lozenges? What herbs intrigue you? We will post more recipes in the days to come, but I would love to hear about your recipes – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s the email for my web design business). If you create a recipe of your own, I would love to link to it from this post!
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also love to read my simple 3-ingredient house cleaner recipe. All- natural and super easy, I will never buy a chemical cleaner again (now if I could just convince Grandma.)