This week I found myself with a hellishly sore throat and no throat drops in the house. Normally I *am* one to lay about the house and moan, but dangit, this time I made cough drops myself.
It was surprisingly easy. I followed this delightful recipe from Scootchmaroo on Instructables: Cough Drops. Read all the comments too!
I'm thinking of trying these again in the winter as gifts. What flavours do you like?
My day went like this:
- Make ginger tea and let it steep.
- Have a nap.
- Start boiling sugar solution. Make lunch while watching sugar. Eat lunch nearby. Check on sugar solution more while washing dishes. Once done, pour sugar into molds.
- Have a nap.
- Wake up: dust off the drops and they are done! Try a drop.
- Finish off with another nap.
Haha ok - some more details:
For the honey ginger flavour, I made a strong ginger tea from boiling ginger in water (some sliced, some minced). I was out of lemon, but I added a couple sprigs of thyme from the garden. I'm wondering how fruit juice with pulp would work...
I strained the tea to get ~ 1 cup liquid. The liquid was cloudy from bits of minced ginger.
Add an equal proportion of sugar. I used ~ 1 cup white sugar but since I love honey, I added a tablespoon of blackthorn honey, a dark aromatic honey. I didn't realize it at the time but this made the drops taste dominantly of honey, with a kick of hot ginger. Scootchmaru notes that using only honey, less or no sugar, will increase the boiling time for the sugar solution.
If first time with this recipe: so you don't end up with a huge number of drops, only one cup of liquid was very managable. This will end up with about a cup of drops.
I also tried rosemary sage drops at the same time, but these were bland with a bad bitter aftertaste. I should have guessed that if the tea was bitter, don't make it into drops!
Then I set the ginger-sugar solution to boil. I agree with comments to use an extra large saucepot. Once the sugar solution approaches the right temperature, it can froth up to twice the height.
Eek! A smaller pot and this would have overflowed.
Read Scootchmaru's instructions here: once it boils, do NOT stir or do anything to drop sugar crystals back into the solution. Use a clean thermometer and spoons. Also, it's dang hot AND sticky, so treat it as if it's molten lava. (Well, just as if - fellow scientists will point out molten lava is over 1000 F.)
Let the temperature reach hard crack stage, or about ~300 F. My candy thermometer seems to be off, so I dropped a bit in water to see if I had the hard crack stage.
Scootchmaru & Mongpoovian's powdered sugar DIY molds work great! As per their instructions: pour a mix of powdered sugar and/or cornstarch into a pan, and make holes with any small round object. You have to find a size balance... shallower impressions can give a nice thumbprint drop, but it's easier to accidently make a joined puddle of syrup. Also make more impressions than you think you need: if you have to set the pot down, the sugar will harden in the pot.
Pour the drops into your molds. Remember you are working with ... um, molten lava. Any little drips are fun to eat later.
The drops look really neat once you've poured them. Bubbles...
They cool fairly quickly. I had a 2 hour nap to be sure. I dropped them into a strainer to sift off the extra sugar. If powdered sugar collected in the bottom divot, I removed it by either poking it out with a chopstick or violently shaking the lot in the strainer. Whatever reduces the amount of inhaled sugar :P
Voila! They turned out a pretty gold honey colour.
If you can do this, you can toally make lollipops next!
Update: these drops lasted about 1.5 weeks before they started to break down, so consume them by then! The sugar & honey started to form crystals so the texture is more like a sugar lump. However, they might last longer during a dry winter.