Whether it be the dead of winter or the high life
of summer, colds and allergies seem to pop up out of nowhere and 'catch'
us completely off guard. Hand-in-hand with these seasonal terrors come
the dreaded cough and there are two ways you can fight cold's comrade-in-arms-----
with either over the counter cough drops ----- or ones that you can make
Make yourself, you ask? Why not! it's easy and many of the ingredients
within these little soldiers can be found right in your own kitchen. Sugar,
corn syrup and water gently brought to a robust boil till they reach what
is known as the "hard crack" stage will give you the "medium."
The only secret to a successful drop is to use a tasty and simple combination
of herbs "steeped" in the water before adding it to the sugar-syrup.
This wonderful cough relieving tea along with your "dry" ingredients"
are all you need to make your own natural cough confection-ators.
Some herbs that are found in many of the other natural cough drops you
find on the market that you may want to try alone or in combination are;
Coltsfoot, Korean Licorice Mint (easy to grow; seeds are available from
Seeds of Change), thyme, slippery elm, horehound, comfrey leaf, hyssop,
marsh mallow and common mullein, to name a few. Many of these herbs are
perennial so you will have them for your own personal medicine cabinet
year after year. Use the leaves only of these herbs either singly or in
combination. It helps to try them out as a tea first, that way you know
which herbs will taste best in your cough drops. About 2-3 tsp. of herb
to 1 1/2 cups boiling water ought give you the concentration that you
need; let steep till cool.
Here's a tried-and-true hard candy recipe, straight from the pages of
Cooking for American Homemakers. I have used this gem for many years for
lollypop making and it is first rate for making the medium:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water (herbal tea)
vegetable coloring (optional)
Mix sugar, herbal tea and corn syrup and cook over low heat stirring until
sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Continue boiling without stirring
until a small amount is very brittle when dropped into cold water. Wash
away crystals from side of pan with a damp cloth. Cook slowly at end so
that the syrup will not discolor. Remove from the heat and add color.
Either drop quickly from the tip of a spoon onto a greased surface or
into prepared hard candy molds. Allow to harden and cool completely before
removing. You can roll them in powdered sugar and wrap in plastic wrap
or waxed paper for storage.
For gift giving, why not add a personal touch by pressing some of the
fresh herbs between waxed paper and use to decorate or wrap your gift
box. Add a nice tag listing the herbs that you used for a professional