It's that time of year again folks. Cough/cold/nasty what the heck is that person hacking up time. We go through bags and bags and bags of Ricola. The only person who is a bigger baby about having a sore throat than me is Sierra. Way bigger. Where'd she get that from? So I thought...hmmm...how hard can it be to make these things? Turns out not hard at all. You just have to approach it like I try to approach sewing - NO FEAR.
So I researched (you know...I googled it) recipes, formulas and herbs and settled in on one recipe. All properties described are internet-retrieved, so you choose whether to believe the purported properties of the herbs. However, I will say that my brain believed them as I sucked on the finished product.
Here's the recipe:
1 cup dried herbs (see here for herb guide). Mix and match according to your preference
3 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups brown sugar or same amount of honey [see note about honey]
2 teaspoons peppermint extract if desired (may not go with honey?!)
First you will want to steep the dried herbs in the tea. Steep for about 30 minutes or so. Strain well using a tea press or cheesecloth.
Next add brown sugar or honey over medium heat and bring to a boil slowly. Be sure to keep stirring constantly. When the brown sugar or honey herbs mixture reaches 290 to 300 degrees and pulls apart in threads it is done.
At this point remove from heat and add the peppermint extract if desired. You can then proceed to pull the mixture like taffy and make little balls. Or the easiest and fastest thing to do is spread over a cookie sheet. I tried putting them in a loaf pan (I made a 1/2 recipe) and scoring them. When the herbal mixture it hardens you can then break into pieces. Use wax paper to store them.
[Note about honey - These tasted great but after a couple of weeks in a container began to draw in moisture and try to become liquid again. Still edible....just had to twist a piece off. Someone suggested putting one of those little silicon(e)? packets inside the container to prevent this which I think I'll try next time]
The herbs were easy to find. Whole Foods was my first stop and they had everything but horehound. However, next time I'll just go to Lhasa K to get everything, which is where I found the horehound.
Horehound has been used for decades for coughs and bronchial upsets. It is a great herb for breaking up congestion. It contains murubiin which stimulates bronchial secretions.
Mullein is an herb that will help soothe the bronchial and lungs. It is extremely gentle and effective. It will help ease coughs.
This herb is used to help relieve inflammation of the bronchial.
So you make up this big pan of tea and then do the straining:
The tea comes out looking like this:
Then, put it back in a pan with the brown sugar or honey.
Pour it in a pan (for a 1/2 recipe I used a loaf pan)....next time I'll probably line the pan with wax paper and butter it, for easier removal.If you decide to pour it on a cookie sheet you're done. You'll simply break it up like brittle when it's ready. But if you use a pan like I did (thinking I could make the shape of the original herbal flavor Ricolas) you need to score the cough drops...unless you're a hard candy expert and know how to quickly and efficiently pull and shape the taffy-like candy into little balls. That's not me so I'm scoring. The challenge is that you have to score when it's not too hot and not too cool. I would run my small, sharp knife through a little butter, then dip the tip in and draw a line. Sometimes I'd start at the edges and do the edges all the way around, then wait as the middle cooled a bit more a go back in a little at a time. When it's too hot the candy sticks to the knife - too cool, you won't be able to score it at all.
Sounds hard but it's not. Although I do want to look into getting hard candy molds so I can make nice little round balls without the taffy-pulling part. Good luck!