herbal honey candy/coughdrops

We made herbal candy (medicinal drops) for the first time last week. Little bit challenging I must admit, but fun and tasty! Our candy was  basically a peppermint candy with a bit of beebalm, thyme, and sage added for a cold fighting punch.

What you need:
4 cups dried herb(s) of your choice
4 cups water
3-4 cups honey
cream of tartar
candy thermometer
large soup pot
jelly roll pan or candy molds
parchment paper or non-stick spray
confectioner’s sugar or arrow root powder

1. Make a strong tea infusion by using 1 cup dried herbs to 1 cup water. Our herb combination was 3 1/2 cups dried peppermint, 1/4 cup sage, 1/4 cup beebalm and 4 tablespoons thyme. Put herbs directly into the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for about an hour. Strain herbs from the tea. We were left with 2 1/2 cups of tea.

dried herbs

2. Put the tea back into a LARGE soup pot, add 1 1/2 cups honey for each cup of tea. I had 2 1/2 cups of tea so I added close to 4 cups of honey to the tea. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar for each cup of tea.

temperature 300

 3. Turn the stove on high and bring the mixture to a boil. You want the temperature of the honey/tea mixture to reach 300 degrees. This is where the challenge came for us. Once the mixture was boiling, the bubbles wanted to go over the edge of the pot; I would turn down the heat, then the temperature wouldn’t rise. So I would turn up the heat again, more boil over…..vicious cycle. I thought about quiting at one point, but all that honey down the drain would be wrong, so we persevered. We finally found a temperature where the temperature would climb and the bubbles wouldn’t reach the edge of the pan. It took us about 45 minutes to get to 300 degrees!


 4. Finally, after reaching 300 degrees,  pour the syrup onto a parchment lined jelly roll pan (or use a non-stick spray, you don’t want your candy to stick). There are special candy molds you can use as well, just make sure it can handle the 300 degree heat of the syrup! You could use a spoon and mix the bubble layer into the thicker bottom layer, but I preferred to keep the bubble on top to create a pretty layered look when the candy hardened.

dump and dry

5. The hardest part for the little ladies was waiting for the candy to cool and harden! I eventually put it in the freezer to quicken the process, and to keep the little ladies out of the syrup! Sticky fingers were all around!

mmm good

6. Once the candy hardens, break it into pieces and coat in confectioner’s sugar or arrow root powder to keep the candies from sticking to each other. Our candy is soft and chewy when it reaches room temperature so I store it in the freezer. The candies should keep for at least 6 months stored in the freezer.

herbal cough drops

It turned out very tasty and we will make more in the future. I’ve always wanted to make horehound candy, but I don’t have any of the dried herb right now; I need to order some along with the elderberries! If you are a candy maker and have any advice in this process I would love to hear it! We did do some research on the science behind cooking candy and found this fantastic website- The Accidental Scientist- Science of Cooking. All kinds of good stuff there!


  • January 5, 2011 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

  • Steve
    August 29, 2010 - 11:24 pm | Permalink

    A quick tip for stopping almost any kind of over flow: Butter on the rim of the pot. The butter breaks the surface tension and pops the bubbles.

    If you got the sugar up to temp and kept it there for a decent amount of time then they should e pretty firm and not chewy unless you bite them. i’ve never put hard candy in the fridge to cool it so perhaps the rapid cooling doesn’t allow for proper crystallization.

    Thank you for the tasty recipe, I think I’m going to test some lemon and ginger out on my GF and see if they’ll help her usual bug. I’ve got a big pile of sage and rosemary in the garden, think it’d go well with it? next year i’ll plat peppermint… in a pot, last time it nearly blotted out the tomatoes lol.

  • November 24, 2009 - 9:00 pm | Permalink

    If I can not get bee balm, what would you suggest instead?

    • November 25, 2009 - 11:00 am | Permalink

      Lemonbalm would be a good one or just increase the peppermint or any of the other herbs you are using.

      • December 1, 2009 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

        I finally tried this. Finally had time…anyway, I let mine get to 300 degrees but I think it looks very dark and taste rather stout. Does yours taste the same? I am wondering if yours taste that way. Of course, this is all new to me so I haven’t a real clue what it should taste like. :) Just curious. Thanks. C.

  • November 24, 2009 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    excellent. This is what I always wanted…thanks for sharing the recipe.
    I linked to it on my blog!

  • November 23, 2009 - 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Yum! I want to make some.

  • Pat
    November 23, 2009 - 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Yummie and good :-)
    Mine is cooling down right now. And all of a sudden all my children are coughing ;-)
    I had some diced onions in it, too. I didn’t add beebalm, didn’t have it.
    Next time I add ribwort to it as well.

    The water amount was not enough for me, either I didn’t measure the herbs well, or I don’t know. I just went with what felt right to me. But it took pretty long till it reached 300 F. I had a steady, but slowly increase, but had to turn it off once, so we can have dinner :-)

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Pat
      November 23, 2009 - 11:01 pm | Permalink

      I can’t cut them, but I roll them, that’s working…
      but, yes, very sticky…
      I had one in my mouth and ‘complained’ to my husband, that it’s very sticky and it sticks to my teeth. He just said, that must be the reason, while the kids are so quiet now, their mouths are sticked together *lol*

      • November 24, 2009 - 10:08 am | Permalink

        No, you can’t cut these guys. I stuck mine in the freezer, they are easy to break apart when cold by “slamming” them into the side of a large bowl or breaking with your hands. Yes, they are quite sticky, almost taffy like! Love your husband’s comment!

  • November 23, 2009 - 8:28 pm | Permalink

    wow…what a great idea. i hope that this winter i may find the time to try something like this…crossing my fingers. you certainly have some of the greatest ideas here:) thanks! pennie

  • November 23, 2009 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m so amazed by the wonderful quality of your crafts and concoctions! I’ll bet it will be a wonderful comfort to use these candies when you are feeling sick. Beth

    • November 23, 2009 - 9:07 pm | Permalink

      And not sick Beth; you’d be surprised how many times the girls have down with a cough and sore throat since we made these! So funny!

  • November 23, 2009 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I just put the infusion in a glass jar, and I am excited to get these going. I have been searching for herbal cold remedies over the past few days (for the coming season), and this is perfect. I will also be ordering some elderberries to day to make the syrup. Thank you for sharing

    • November 23, 2009 - 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Heather, please share and let me know how they turned out! Good luck with that 300 degree temperature! ;)

  • November 23, 2009 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

    What a great excuse to make delicious things. I must say, I won’t be trying that myself, way too challenging. The pictures are amazing!!

  • November 23, 2009 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that’s impressive!!

  • November 23, 2009 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Great project! I love making candy and don’t have a lot of recipes using honey in place of sugar. Plus I have a ton of different dried mint to use up!

  • Mariam
    November 23, 2009 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    wooooh yummy!

    i can’t wait to try this recipe! but .. you can’t boil/heat honey … ayurveda says it kills the benefits and makes its toxic … but i am not professional to advise you! do what’s best ;)



    • November 23, 2009 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Mariam, I don’t doubt that taking honey up to that temperature can zap most of the benefits; but I prefer honey to sugar. I wanted to share a sugar free candy making recipe.

  • November 23, 2009 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

    They look delicious! It looks like your kids agree. :)

  • November 23, 2009 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you didn’t have to put 4 cups of honey down the drain! That would be a tough decision. These sound, and look, delicious!

    • November 23, 2009 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I think the honeybees would have attacked if I would have thrown all that precious gold down the drain!

  • November 23, 2009 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    what a clever mama you are! I love this idea!

  • November 23, 2009 - 5:38 am | Permalink

    Uche UCH, Ahchoo……,
    sorry I’m a bit cold.
    But these sweets will help ;)

    Thanks xo

  • November 23, 2009 - 2:57 am | Permalink

    I’m sure it is fun to make candys!!

  • November 23, 2009 - 2:03 am | Permalink

    I love her colourful fingers!

  • November 23, 2009 - 1:09 am | Permalink

    Wow Lisa, you rock!! This is too awesome :D
    I’m so going to try this recipe out. I can’t wait-Thanks for sharing it :D

    • November 23, 2009 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      Please come back and tell me how it goes! Curious to hear how quickly the temp. gets to 300.

  • November 22, 2009 - 11:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been wanting to try cough drops, too! I haven’t looked closely at my recipes, yet, though.
    I’ll put it on the list! :)
    I love horehound, too. mmmm.

    • November 23, 2009 - 10:19 am | Permalink

      Your herbal honey medicines would be perfect for this recipe Stephanie.

  • November 22, 2009 - 10:41 pm | Permalink

    These look so good! And so much healthier than the junk in the stores. :)

  • November 22, 2009 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

    thank you for sharing your how-to! i really appreciate it!

  • November 22, 2009 - 10:29 pm | Permalink

    What a cool & useful project! I’ve gotta earmark this for future reference. Thanks for sharing :)

  • November 22, 2009 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    they look so amazing, and the picture of the dried herbs is so beautiful. Thank you for the recipe and all the good tips! xo Kyndale

  • November 22, 2009 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Yummy! Great idea. Another one to add to my list of things to try.
    Do you have a good resource for ordering your elderberries? I haven’t been able to find a place “I like.” :) Thanks.

    • November 23, 2009 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      I totally trust Mountain Rose Herbs. Here’s the link directly to the elderberries:
      Making elderberry syrup?

      • November 23, 2009 - 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info. Yes, it’s for elderberry syrup. We are almost through the little bit we have. I want to grow elderberries next year, but given the ginormous squirrel population in our backyard…ordering might be a better idea. :)
        Oh…and can’t wait to try the candies. I love candy making. xo

  • November 22, 2009 - 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to try this. You have such a wealth of wonderfulness here!

  • November 22, 2009 - 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Mmmmm, and I bet your house smelled wonderful, too!

  • November 22, 2009 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the recipe and tutorial, it would be fun to give this a try. How long do the candies last in the fridge? I’m thinking that to have them be useful for coughdrops I’d need to make them well before the coughing started. :) Do you think they could freeze as well?

    • November 22, 2009 - 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Sure you can keep them in the freezer, actually that’s where I keep them. I’m suffering a headache tonight, need to go change frige to freezer. I think they will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer.

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