Making Cough Drops


(Enlarged close-up of hardened foamy section of a cough drop.)

I’ve never made cough drops before, just so you know.  But I happened upon this post about making cough drop lollipops and coincidentally my husband is sick, AND I forgot to pick up cough drops at the store yesterday…so I just had to make them. 

That makes perfect sense, right?

I thought you’d agree.

(Oh, and the funniest part was when I told Bill that I was going to the store to get raw honey so I could make him some cough drops…and he said, weakly, “You could just buy me the cough drops…” and I said “No…I want to make them.  They’ll be all natural and really good for you!”  And off I went.)

The how-to in the post I’ve linked to above gave the basic directions for how to make either honey lollipops or cough drops, but I wanted to jazz them up, plus include other good-for-you ingredients.  So I began by steeping lemon peel, some slices of fresh ginger, and a healthy pinch of cinnamon in about a cup or more of raw honey.  I set this mixture in a small pot on the stove on a low flame while I made dinner.

After dinner I poured the whole thing into a measuring cup…


and then strained the honey back into the pot.



Then I began to heat the honey. 

When you make cough drops just keep in mind that you’re basically making candy.  You need to bring the sugary substance (in this case, the honey) up to the right temperature in order for it to cool to a hard candy consistency.


In this case, the instructions told me to bring the honey up to 300 degrees F.

While that was going on, I lightly greased (with vegetable shortening, though butter would work, or oil) my cough drop molds.


No, they’re not really cough drop molds.  They’re little ice cube trays.  I think they came with the dorm fridge I’ve used to age cheese.

Anyway, they were the smallest sort of mold I had, so I lightly greased them and figured I wouldn’t fill them all the way.


Now, I didn’t take pictures once the honey got close to 300 degrees.  I was too focused on making sure it didn’t bubble over the sides of the pot – it rose up pretty high.


But just understand that I did, really and truly, get the honey up to 300.

After that, I poured the blazing hot mixture (sugar burns are some of the worst – be carefull!) into the little molds.  I had just enough to partly fill both trays. 



Next time around I think I will slow down here and let the boiling honey settle down a bit.  And I’ll skim any remaining foam off before I pour the liquid into the molds.  I think they’ll look nicer.

Anyway, that was it for last night.  You can’t cool these in the fridge – they won’t set up properly.  Bill had to just drink tea and suffer while I kept my fingers figuratively crossed in the hope that the honey would set up properly.

This morning I held my breath and twisted the first tray – and a couple of the cough drops popped right out!  Yay!  It worked!  A bunch of twisting and occasional banging, and the cough drops were lying on parchment paper.


A few of them shattered a bit when I was banging.  The ones at the ends of the trays were hardest to get out.


I tasted one of the little broken bits and – as expected – it tasted like honey.  Very soothing.  I didn’t pick up on any of the other ingredients – lemon zest, cinnamon or ginger – so I’m thinking I’d either steep longer next time or increase those amounts.

I wanted to send some of these to work with Bill, but I couldn’t very well give them to him like this – they’d melt and stick to his pockets, probably…get covered in lint…create a nightmare in the washing machine.

So I cut out little squares of parchment, rolled a cough drop in each square, then twisted the ends to keep the paper closed. 


I was so pleased with my little self!

Later today, after I got out of work, I called Bill and asked if he’d tried any of them.  He did – and they tasted very good to him and his unhappy throat.  The only issue is that they are very sticky once you start sucking on them.  They will weld themselves to your teeth if you’re not careful. 

I don’t know enough about candymaking or coughdropmaking to know how to rememedy this – or if there is even a remedy for it – but I’m excited enough about the prospect of making more of these to do a bit of research on the topic. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

4 thoughts on “Making Cough Drops

  1. What a wonderful idea, as I sit here eating my Riccola & slowly killing myself coughing. [I feel for ya’, Bill!]

    Doing some research, I found this really neat article about making cough drops with the herb Horehound [Mint Family] which is the primary ingredient in Riccola!
    Something to add to the 2013 seed order?

    I think with the stickiness – maybe water needs to be added to sufficiently melt down the liquid in the honey during it’s cooking stage? I also don’t really make hard candies, but I know there’s a certain temperature you need to bring them to to get rid of the stickiness… The recipe I linked says to bring it to 330 – the Hard Crack stage! Sounds so mysterious~ hehehe.

    Go Jayne go! … and I would love one of those drops right now though! 😀

  2. I was going to suggest horehound like the previous commenter. You can grow it in your garden easily and tincture it or use it to make cough drops. Best of luck.

  3. Add light corn syrup to help with the stickiness and the Hard Crack stage at 330 F will help a lot! Not a lot of corn syrup maybe 10 percent? It will help the crystalline structure set up. The honey doesn’t need to be boiling when you cast it into molds and will set up faster if you add tartaric acid solution.

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