If you’ve ever tried making homemade cough drops with just honey, you know it’s nearly impossible not to end up with a scorched mess. I’ve tried every winter for the past three years, but have never actually succeeded. These soothing sore throat meltaways are as far as I’ve gotten to a true cough drop . . . until this year, that is.
You see, one upside of packing up a home in 12F degree weather is that while you’re defrosting the freezer, your bone broth and soups stay perfectly frosty outside, and your kids can help by transporting boxes in their sleigh. The other upside is that creativity often comes when you’ve run out of your normal options.
After a couple of long days working in the cold, dry air, my throat was feeling a bit irritated and scratchy. Taking stock of what was left in my kitchen led to a throat-soothing, herbal homemade cough drop that I’m so excited to share with you. No dehydrator or food processor needed – just a bowl, a cookie sheet, and your oven!
The therapeutic herb in this cough drop recipe is slippery elm powder, which – when taken as a lozenge – transforms into a mucilaginous (gel-like) consistency that coats and soothes irritated throat mucosa. It can also be used to make sore throat tea or homemade throat spray if you have the other ingredients on hand.
One quick note before we get to the recipe: Slippery elm bark is considered an at-risk species, so it’s important to support shops that are using sustainable harvesting practices to ensure it will be available for generations to come – here’s one option. Only a small amount is needed per batch, so a bag that size lasts a long time.
Okay, on to the recipe!
Homemade Cough Drops With Honey And Lemon
Makes 16 cough drops.
- 2 large medjool dates, pitted - If you press the dates into a measuring spoon, they should equal 1 rounded tablespoon. If they are small you may need to use more. (Where to buy medjool dates)
- 1 tablespoon slippery elm powder, plus more for coating the lozenges (Where to buy slippery elm powder)
- 1.5 teaspoons honey (Where to buy organic honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (Where to buy organic lemon extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon water
Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Using clean hands, work them together until you have a dough. At first you may think it feels too dry and crumbly to work with, but just keep kneading with your fingers. It should form into a ball as everything combines, but if the dates were very dry it may stay crumbly. Add in water in 1/4 teaspoon increments until it forms a ball.
Divide the ball into 16 pieces, forming each one into a ball as you go. Roll them in a small bowl of slippery elm powder to coat the outside, then place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Press each one down to flatten them a little as you go. Place in the oven at the lowest setting possible (my oven was 170F) for six to eight hours, or until hard and dry.
What sore throat remedies have you tried? Which ones worked for you?