California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism
Charles R. Garcia, Director
In the far reaches of my memory I can see my mother making what she called in Spanish, throat candies. My guess is she learned this from her mother and not her dad. She took extra care when making them, taking her time, laying out a white clean cloth to put her tools on. It was only later when I was in grade school did I realize she was making lozenges. She always started the process with a decoction of many herbs, including spearmint out of the garden along with ground rosemary. It made the house smell…herby. You also can make herbal lozenges similar to hard candy, but you'll use tea made from medicinal herbs to form the liquid portion of the recipe. Herbal lozenges soothe inflamed mucous membranes and help suppress coughing, depending on the herbs you use. For best results, choose a mucilaginous herb such as marshmallow, slippery elm, or licorice root, as your carrier for the stronger herbs.
Things You'll Need
• 9-by-13-inch baking pan
• Butter or vegetable oil cooking spray
• Large saucepan
• 3 tbsp. dried herbs
• 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 quart-sized glass jars with lids
Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan with butter, or spray lightly with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place in the refrigerator.
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Turn off the heat, add the dried herbs, cover and steep for 20 minutes.
Strain the herbs from the liquid and discard the spent plant material. Return the liquid to the pan, add the granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir.
Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the hard ball stage, about 35 to 50 minutes. Check if the mixture has reached this stage by dipping out a small ball and dropping it into a glass of cold water. If it keeps its shape, the mixture is ready. If it breaks apart, boil longer.
Pour the mixture into the chilled, greased pan. Score with a knife into small, 1-inch squares before it hardens. Allow the mixture to stand for at least an hour.
Remove the mixture from the pan once cool, and break into pieces along the score lines. Store the herbal lozenges in glass jars with tight-fitting lids.
Tips and Warnings
• For best results, use dried herbs with cough suppressant or throat soothing properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint, eucalyptus, marshmallow, slippery elm, licorice, lobelia, mullein, stinging nettle and thyme may provide some relief from sore throat or cough.
• This recipe should fill two quart-sized jars.
• Use within six months for the best results.
• The sugar and herbal tea mixture typically reaches the hard ball stage somewhere between 247 and 252 degrees F, according to Shatoiya De la Tour in her book, "Earth Mother Herbal."
• A candy thermometer will tell you when the mixture reaches this point, although you'll still need to manually check by dropping a small amount in cold water.
• University of Maryland Medical Center: Cough
• "Earth Mother Herbal;" Shatoiya De la Tour and Richard De la Tour; 2002
• "The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines;" Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila; 2000
— Charles R. Garcia