‘ZOMGs so ill’, you know when you feel so bad that all you can think to yourself is ‘Im sure death is nicer than this’ or worse, when you start to feel like you’re coming down with something and paranoia sets in about how bad its going to be. The good angel on your right shoulder tries to positive and say ‘its just a sneeze or a cough’ and then bad angel on your left shoulder shows you visions of emptied tissue boxes and hundreds of tissues all over your floor.
I went to bed one evening and my throat hurt as I laid in bed, my good angel told me that Id wake up feeling fine the morning. Sadly it was the bad angel who met me when I woke up in the morning, where swallowing felt like a 100 razor blades going down at once. I dont do ill, for me like having man flu but 10 times whinier. Im not the suffer in silence kind of girl either, oh no, I want everyone to know what Im suffering the death of a 1000 deaths in the loudest most germ sharing way possible. However, I decided to be brave and cycle it out… I live in the Netherlands, Dutch people are convinced fresh air is good for them and what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger or your arse hurt. So I went for a 25KM ride around my local area, not only did I feel like a dead (wo)man cycling but my special cycling shorts (you know the ones, where it looks like you’re wearing about 25 menstrual pads at once) were no longer cushiony after the 8KM mark… My arse hurt, my throat hurt, I felt bad but I had fresh air and natural beauty around me. I wont lie the views were nice and thanks to Hurricane Ophelia the weather was stunning for mid October. Its crazy to think my locals views are this!
Whilst on the ride I was sucking on a few throat and cough lozenges and when I got home I thought why not make my own? I grew up on Ludens and still have a soft spot for them now, they are essentially candy parading as a sore throat treatment. Whilst recently out I picked up some lozenges that were sage flavoured (I didn’t realise it at the time) but they tasted weird and yet nice at the same time. This got me thinking, can I make my own, which would probably be better (in health terms) that the store bought version. The answer is YES, absolutely. However, do you not fool yourself, you are still essentially making candy, just a slightly healthier version of the store bought kind and you will know without certainty what goes in them, which is always a win. I was clearly ill and in the state of delirium where I thought I could make my own drops, whilst being ill.
So the search began for recipes on making sore throat and cough lozenges. There are a lot of recipes out there, all with basically the same technique, which is helpful. I decided I wanted a recipe using honey rather than just sugar, as honey has a lot of natural healthy benefits. This basically narrowed my search down to honey, ginger and lemon drops, not going to lie, this didn’t have the ‘I need these in my life’ feeling. I took several base recipes and converted them into one and by adapted I mean, made my own, dangerous I know!
DIY Sore Throat & Cough Drops
Makes: 30 drops Making time: 1 hour minimum Total time: 4 hours minimum
- 10-20 Sprigs of Mint (I used an entire prepackaged bunch)
- 4 Sprigs of Sage
- 1 – 2-3 inch piece of ginger, peeled, you can use a meat tenderiser on it to help it break down
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 lemon, cut into pieces
- 1 cup honey
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1 cup powdered sugar minimum (you could also use fine white sugar or cornstarch)
You will also need
- A candy thermometer, I wouldn’t advise making them without one
- Small candy/chocolate moulds or you can make make your own ‘moulds’ using powdered sugar/cornstarch
Now how to make these good for your throat and cough drops:
1. In a pan with 1.5C water add in the sage, mint, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cut up lemon. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer on low heat for 30 mins. You can give it a stir or leave it be, it doesn’t really make a difference.
2. Whilst your mixture is simmering grease your moulds or create your moulds using powdered sugar.
3. Now drain off your liquid, make note of how much liquid there is, as you need equal amounts of honey, there should be roughly 1 cup worth. I also squeezed out the lemons for the juice, be careful as the lemons are hot and you can burn your hand. You can drain the mixture and allow the lemons to cool before squeezing them.
4. Add your herby lemon water mixture back to the pan (use a heavy bottomed LARGE pan as the mixture is will go more than 6 times its current height in the pan when boiling) and add in equal amounts of honey to your herby lemon water mixture (ensure to grease whatever your using to pour your honey from first to make for easier removal).
4. Now add your candy thermometer to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Using your thermometer cook until the mixture hits 300º F. Be care of this, as honey scorches easy (I’ve read many ranting reviews of honey based recipes where the person who made it scorched the mixture/honey and then blamed the recipe and blogger)! I got a chair and sat next to the pan stirring the entire time. It was stuck at this picture stage for about 10 mins and I thought Id done something wrong but PATIENCE is the key to this recipe. It will take approximately 30 mins to from to finish. Once it hits about 260º F it went SUPER quick to 300º F, to the point that I thought I had burnt it and was swearing whilst saying how ill I felt. So be PATIENT, stirring it constantly and once it starts to get close to 250º F be ready to remove from the heat. In fact when it gets to 280º F remove it from the heat, as the temperature will continue to rise and then you wont panic like I did. As you can see from below, the mixture will come to the top of your pan and if you let it will go over the sides of your pan (which is a utter pain in the backside to clean) when it gets to 2/3 up your pan, turn down the heat and allow the mixture settle back down, then slowly turn the heat back up again, this will be the game you play for basically the duration of the boil.
5. Now to pour into the moulds. If you are using thick/deep moulds like I have, only fill them half way, see notes. I used my pyrex jug as used in the 2nd and 3rd picture, washed it out and then put it in the microwave for a few mins, so that was it was and when the hot liquid hit the jug, it wouldn’t immediately harden from the temperature difference. HOWEVER, when the mixture went into the jar, it did continue to bubble up and over, which meant more swearing from me and a mess on my counter and all over the jug. As you can see from the moulds on the left there are a lot of bubbles in them, where as the far right is darker looking from less bubbles. I did read that someone let the mixture sit before pouring into the moulds until the bubbles had dissipated, however, the mixture was also colder as a result and more difficult to work with.
6. Cool at room temperature until set and firm, this will take anywhere from 30mins (still softish) to 2 hours. I was lazy and covered them loosely in clingfilm and left them overnight. It was getting late, I was ill (have I said it enough?) and had lost the will to survive and was still convinced I’d scorched them, so wasn’t feeling overly positive about them. Word to the wise, greasy/cover your counters before you do this. Getting the dried mixture off your counter tops is a absolute pain!
7. Now to finish these little morsels off. Break off any extra bits where you over filled the mould, if this is the case. Toss the drops in powdered sugar/cornstarch to prevent stickiness, which is kind of done in vain. You can also wrap them in wax paper, which is honestly probably the best solution but most time consuming. I went the powdered sugar route, tossing them individually, putting them in my container and then adding the spare powdered sugar from my tossing pot. Store in an air-tight container. Ive personally put mine in the refrigerator to keep. Even with the powdered sugar, they are still sticking together, so powdered sugar isn’t a fool proof plan.
Notes: If you like the taste of honey this it the recipe for you! Despite all the herbs put into, the main and predominant flavour is honey, you honestly cant really taste anything else, it could be because Im ill but seriously all I get is honey. Having read other recipes, apparently even just 1 tablespoon of honey is enough to make it taste predominantly of honey, its no wonder mine just taste of honey.
I decided to double the recipe (its clearly my Costco mentality) and this was a mistake, seriously DONT DO IT. I filled all of my moulds completely and then had a bit spare, which made 30 super thick lozenges, which now makes me look like a squirrel harvesting nuts for winter. When youre feeling ill you want something small and dainty to suck on, not a whacking chunk of a drop that takes up half your mouth.
Cleaning tip: put everything in hot water and leave to soak, do not try washing with cold water, as this hardens the sugar more and takes longer to clean.
Good luck with this recipe, remember to be PATIENT and feel better soon!