Homemade Cough Drops
2 1/2 cups dried herbs (see below for one recommended blend)
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Stir water and dried herbs together in a large saucepan, then bring to a steady simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let sit until it’s cool enough to touch. Strain off 1 cup of liquid, squeezing the herbs if necessary.
Return liquid to the heat in a clean, wide saucepan. Add the honey and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently and continue to cook until the liquid reaches 300° (hard-crack stage), a process that can take more than 1 hour, depending on the size of your pan. Watch the syrup very carefully toward the end, lowering the heat if necessary and stirring constantly to prevent burning. If you smell scorching before the syrup has reached 300°, stir in 1 tablespoon of butter to help stabilize it. Stir in the essential oils and the menthol (if using) just as the syrup reaches 300°.
Grease a baking sheet with the olive oil ahead of time and have it sitting at the ready. When the syrup is at hard-crack, pour the syrup into the baking sheet, and let it cool just until it can be handled by hand. Using greased hands, roll the syrup into lozenges and set aside on a lightly greased plate to harden completely.
If you live in a very moist climate, your cough drops may weep. In that case, dredge them generously in slippery elm bark powder before moving them to long-term storage or change the recipe to use half honey and half brown rice syrup, which is less prone to softening when exposed to humidity.
Store in an air-tight jar. Keeps for 3-6 months in dry conditions.