Horehound Cough Drops

Powdered Horehound Cough Drops

There are thousands of lush Horehound  (Marrubium vulgare) plants around Lake Murray.  It is a hardy perennial in the mint family.  Ancient herbalists prescribed it for fevers and malaria and as an antidote for snakebites, rabid dog bites and ingested poison.  Drinking Horehound tea is said to promote mental clarity. Horehound is most famous for it’s use as a natural cough suppressant and expectorant effectively bringing up phlegm and it’s high mucilage content soothes mucous membranes in the throat and respiratory passages. My grandmother loved Horehound Cough Drops and Horehound Candy so I decided to make some.

For easy cough relief, steep Horehound for 15 minutes, strain and gargle frequently.  Another option for cough relief is a little honey. The demulcent soothes irritated mucus membranes and has been shown to reduce coughs better than dextromethorphan (the common over-the-counter cough suppressant) or a placebo.

• 1 cup fresh horehound leaves
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• Granulated or powdered sugar, to coat

Just to be different I added a few whole Cloves and several Anise seed pods and some Fennel seeds.  This not only made the finished product tastier but it added the medicinal constituents of these awesome plants as well to the mix!

Chopping up the Horehound leaves, whole Cloves and Anise

1. Put horehound in a small nonreactive saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove horehound and squeeze out liquid.

Add sugar and honey to pan, stir with a wooden spoon while bringing to a boil, then turn heat down to a gentle simmer. If bubbles threaten to overflow the pan, reduce heat slightly and stir.

2. Boil to hard-crack stage (330 degrees), but even if you use a candy thermometer, test often toward the end of cooking to get the hardness right. Keep a shallow cup of cold water nearby. Stir the liquid occasionally, and watch how it falls from the spoon. When it forms a thread, begin testing for hardness by allowing a drop of the mixture to fall into the cup of cold water. Don’t trust your fingers to examine the now-hardened drop in the cup: bite it. If it’s at all gooey or sticks to your teeth, keep cooking. When it’s hard enough to crack when you bite it, remove pan from heat immediately.

3. If the mixture crystallizes, just add a cup of water and an extra tablespoon of honey to the pan, scrape the crystalline chunks into it and begin again.

Horehound syrup poured into a pan to harden

4. Lightly butter a candy mold, cookie sheet or other heatproof baking pan, and pour in the hot mixture. If you’re using a flat-bottomed pan, score the surface of the candy after it has cooled enough to become firm. This will help in breaking it apart, which should be done as soon as the candy can be handled.

I let my Horehound candy mixture harden a bit and then scored the mixture, but instead of leaving them flat to harden I rolled balls.

Horehound Cough Drops

5. After individual drops are formed, sift granulated or powdered sugar over them to keep homemade cough drops from sticking together. Store horehound cough drops in a moisture-proof container.

Free food and medicine: Horehound cough drops, Eucalyptus oil, Prickly Pear syrup and Nopales salsa!

Recipe courtesy of Herbcompanion