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Honey ginger throat drops

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.

Honey ginger drops

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:

  1. Make ginger tea and let it steep.
  2. Have a nap.
  3. 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.
  4. Have a nap.
  5. Wake up: dust off the drops and they are done! Try a drop.
  6. 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.

Ginger tea

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.

Boiling sugar

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.

Dot matrix

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...

Drops in powdered sugar molds

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.

Drops in a jar

If you can do this, you can toally make lollipops next!

Reader Comments (40)

I'm so going to be making these! My throat is starting to hurt today, and I'm actually allergic to most ingredients in store bought drops. Looks like I'll be heading out tomorrow to find some ginger! Thanks!

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAllison


Hello! My name is Gina DeBacker and I'm an editor for The Herb Companion magazine. We are running a story in our upcoming issue about making your own cough drops. I found your photos and am really interested in talking with you about the possibility of using them in our publication. Please contact me as soon as possible so that we can go over the specifics. My e-mail is Talk with you soon!


November 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina DeBacker

Nice work ! Very inspiring indeed. I'm thinking of adding some Elderberry to a batch to give it that immune and anti-viral action.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrTim Naturopath

Thanks, Dr. Tim! Elderberry sounds great. I'll be growing more of my own herbs this year so I might try those as well. So glad I found Scootchmaru's post on how to make these.

April 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah McGill

Love this idea and I look forward to trying it! You mentioned not knowing about using actual lemon juice for the recipe and as I was reading I thought of using an edible source essential lemon oil. My mom is a nutritionist in Batavia, NY and has found a great company that has many essential oils that are edible and has many helpful healing properties as well! Just a thought! The website for this company is ... I am sure there are many good essential oil companies but this is the one that we have found and their prices are very reasonable.

Thank you for making this recipe available! I look forward to trying it soon!!


August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

These look so good, I could eat them like candy. I wonder if they would be good for pregnancy morning sickness?

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeagen

Well, I'm not totally up on the whole candy-making thing, but my guess would be that if you used some sort of fructose for part of the sugar, it might help prevent crystallization? I understand that's why most hard candies include corn syrup. Pure fructose crystals would likely be sourced from corn, so if you're very sensitive to corn, you probably should avoid it. My son is sensitive to corn, but so far adding fructose to a couple of things has been ok (we use it in marshmallows, for example). If you're going to do it, I would start with subbing maybe 2 tablespoons of fructose for 2 tablespoons of sugar. (Yes, I know that many think fructose is bad, but sucrose is too... and these would only be used in small amounts...) Thanks for posting the pictures!

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLori

I was wondering if a small amount of Kentucky Burbon would not only help the taste but help your throat? Any ideas?

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrank James

I'm so excited in making these! They look delicious! The Bourbon sounds good too btw ;) I would try it if I had some :)

But I'm wondering: can I also drop them in a pan with flour molds instead of powdered sugar or corn starch? I do have the latter but don't like it so much and don't have any powdered sugar handy... I'm thinking "why not" but don't wanna mess up the whole first batch ;)

Hope to hear soon!!

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

what about strawberry flavoring to add to the taste

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarana adams

Has anyone tried freezing/refrigerating them after making them to preserve them longer? I know the last thing I feel like doing when I'm sick is make *anything* so I'm wondering if they would keep longer frozen.

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Strawberry flavour, I am not sure about. Would that be artificial flavouring?

Refrigerating is the best way to preserve but I believe they still won't last longer than app 2 weeks.

Oh and I found out regular flour is no option :) It dissolves and gets sticky.

November 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

You all have such interesting ideas, thanks guys!

Olivia - thanks for checking back in with the flour answer. Instead of icing sugar or corn starch, I've heard of high-temperature candy molds greased with veggie oil.

Frank James - neat, I've never tried spirits in hard candy. I bet the alcohol would boil off but the flavour could be great.

Diana - Yup, I haven't tried it but apparently you can freeze hard candies.

November 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah McGill

Another thing that will interfere with the crystallization process is cream of tartar. Just a pinch, added when you add the sugar to the liquid should make a difference.

January 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

I'm watching the lava boil and wanted to share that the back end of a steak knife makes a lovely divot.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElanaE

Love your blog. This is so good. My DD is sick these days and I am so trying to do all the things that can help her . I know this one sure will help her. I am going to pin this on my blog too for best option for flu remedies. let me know how you like it.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRabzee

Thanks Rabzee!

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterSarah McGill

These look great. I know that my children would love these for a sore throat. I am currently dealing with an extremely painful throat and found a blog that recommended sucking on raw garlic. As awful as that sounds when you are in this much pain you will try anything. Guess works like a charm. It gave me the first relief that I have found in three days. Aren't natural remedies grand?

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Kegley

These look great;can't wait to make them. Regular thyme, lemon thyme and oregano have lots of thymol which is anti-viral, anti- bacterial . Using a tea from them with this would also be beneficial. Ginger and oregano are good for digestive issues, too! If you mix the teas don't add more than the 1 cup of liquid. Thanks for the pics and the blog.

August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBethC

What a great idea, Sarah. I'm saving your blog in Bookmarks!

August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Walter

I made these last winter. I tried a few different ways to mold them. I discovered that if you use the bottom of a food coloring bottle or a cork from a bottle of wine, its the perfect size! Also, if you don't have powdered sugar, you can make your own with regular sugar and a coffee grinder. I imagine you can use a food processor too. In fact, I just used plain sugar once, it turned out fine. I've also cooled it on a metal tray greased with Crisco. It worked somewhat, but not an experience I wish to repeat, lol.

September 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterliz cotten

If you use only honey and no sugar what temperature do you boil it to?

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterB

I've always followed a recipe, so I'm not sure about temperatures for all-honey (or if it's just take longer to reach the right temperature). I'd say try looking for the answer in a candy cookbook (maybe Joy of Cooking's candy section?) or online.

October 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterSarah McGill

I just made drops using pure honey and I cut up ginger which I boiled in the honey, I don't have a candy thermometer so I dropped tiny drips in a glass of cold water and if it didn't harden it wasn't ready. I let it continue to boil and when the drips hardened by testing in cold water it was ready. I used wax paper lined cookie sheet and dropped the syrup mixture, and avoided dipping the ginger pieces. The only problem was some of it stuck to the wax paper. I want to try the powder sugar as molds next time, and maybe lavender extract ones and eucalyptus ones. Any ideas?

October 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeet

Smart - dropping a bit of candy in water is the best way to tell if it's ready if you change ingredients or if your thermometer is unreliable (like mine).

I love lavender! You could try both lavender extract and lavender tea.

October 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterSarah McGill

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