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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!