Fighting a cold? This year, skip the drugstore and DIY a remedy using items you have right at home. Raid your spice cabinet and herbal tea stash to make these tasty drops that are perfect for calming coughs and soothing sore, scratchy throats. 

 

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What You’ll Need:

(Yields 6 to 7 dozen cough drops)

  •  ½ cup strong herbal tea 
  •  1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup honey 
  • ½ to ¾ tsp. peppermint extract, to taste
  • A candy thermometer, or cup of very cold water
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, or silicone 
  • candy molds

 Instructions:

1. Prepare a strong herbal tea, using your favorite tea blend, or make your own, depending on the benefit you want. 

If creating your own blend, place 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch or two each of your desired herb(s) then cover the pot with a lid. Let steep over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain. 

2. While the tea is infusing, place the powdered sugar in a 9" x 13" cake pan or rimmed baking sheet and lightly smooth into an even layer. Using a small cap, ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, or your fingertip, make indentations in the sugar, forming mini powdered-sugar molds. Alternatively, you can use small silicone candy molds instead.

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3. Pour ½ cup of the tea into a deep, heavy-duty saucepan; add sugar and honey. Stir over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Using a damp paper towel or pastry brush, wipe along the inside of the pan to remove stray granules of sugar to prevent them from falling into the hot mixture and causing graininess. 

Raise stove to medium-high heat and continue cooking, until it reaches 300˚F on the candy thermometer (also known as hard-crack stage). This should take around 25 to 30 minutes. If you don’t own a candy thermometer, test for readiness by dropping a small bit of the hot syrup into a cup of very cold water. It should form hard brittle threads that easily break when you try to bend them.

4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the peppermint extract. (Not a fan of peppermint? Try another flavor such as lemon or cinnamon extract instead.) It might sputter and splatter a bit as you do—that’s normal. Transfer liquid to a Pyrex pitcher. Then working quickly—before the syrup hardens—but carefully, pour the hot mixture into the powdered sugar indentations or silicone candy molds, just until filled. With the powdered sugar mold, the syrup will bead up (like oil on water), keeping each drop nice and rounded. 

5. Allow the cough drops to sit, undisturbed, until cool. Once cooled, lightly coat both sides of the drops with powdered sugar and store in the refrigerator for three to four weeks, or in single layers between sheets of wax paper in the freezer for several months. (If you use more than the recommended amount of honey or make the cough drops on a rainy day, you may find that they are slightly sticky and will store best with the freezer method.) 

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Recipe by Jan Berry

Photography by Vanessa Rees

This originally appeared in the December/January print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today

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