Weekend with Horehound

This might be a weird question (still going to ask it…)   Have you ever planted an herb just because you like saying it’s name?   Horehound… horehound… horehound…mmm… and while I believe it to be one of nature’s top ten ugly herbs,  I never get tired of saying horehound.   This weekend I have harvested my horehound and am going to make some horehound cough drops (or in other words horehound candy)

horehound-0
(told you… ugly…ugly)

Here is some of the horehound I have cut out of my herb garden.  Before I give you the recipe I want to “bore” you with some facts about this homely plant.   Horehound’s medicinal use dates way back to the first century BC… (back then they still thought it was ugly) and there are some modern scientific studies showing it to have “antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-atherogenic and anti-inflammatory properties“.  (sounds like snake oil to me… but that is what is written on Wikipedia and who am I to argue).   It also mentioned that Australia considers it a “noxious weed”… (a weed they introduced  in the 19th century… and now has become “invasive” because cattle wont eat it… it thrives even in overgrazed ground).

Horehound candy.jpg
Last years horehound candy… I know… odd shapes.  They have these shapes because I didn’t score it before it had completely hardened  I couldn’t break it into nice pieces because of its hardness…. I just had to shatter it and accept what I got…  (I call it rustic cut candy)  This year I am using candy molds

SO… cattle wont eat it… but I will… and I really like the way it tastes… Liking the taste of horehound in itself can be quite controversial.   Some individuals (ones lacking a sophisticated palate ) will tell you that it is extremely bitter and I have seen some of these same folk (Isabelle) actually quickly spit it out with disgust. (just like the Australian cattle).  Don’t be fooled by all of these “horehound haters”… simply put they are wrong and you need to try this… and if you are Australian…   help out your country by reducing the  pervasiveness of this noxious weed.

 Ingredients:

• 1 cup horehound leaves
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups sugar (I used white last year this year I am using brown… dont’ know if it matters yet)
• 2 tablespoons honey

horehound-2

Step 1:

Separate the leaves from the stems and flowers and wash them  (you do not want bugs in the candy… although horehound is known to be a natural grasshopper repellant so you don’t have to worry about them).   Put the leaves in  a pot with the water and once the water has been brought to a boil then let simmer (this means turn down the heat… I think ) for 20 minutes.

While you are waiting for it to boil here are some more pictures:

horehound-1
I also like to separate the flowers and put them aside so I can get the seeds.

 

 

horehound-seeds
Here are the seeds separated from the flowers… not as hard as you may think… something satisfying  about growing a plant… consuming it… without that being the end of that plant… (even if it is ugly)

 Step 2:

Let the mixture cool and remove horehound leaves from tea by straining through a coffee filter.

Horehound 3.jpg
Here you see me capturing the horehound leaves.  I also squeeze all of the liquid out of the leaves.
horehound-4
The horehound tea should be a light brown as seen above and have the unique horehound smell.  If you taste this it will be bitter but we will be adding sugar and honey… so don’t get worried

Step 3:

Add the sugar and honey to the tea and bring to a boil.  After the boil lower the temperature down to a simmer.

horehound-5
adding honey… never know how much actually made it in and how much stuck to the spoon..

 

Step 4:

Bring the mixture up to a “hard crack” stage(330 degrees…).  I am horrible when it comes to sugar caramels and hard candies.   I always struggle to get this correct.  If you have done it several times you know the moment that you have to put it in the mold… just before it will crystalize.    If it does crystalizes… (turns back into sugar…) dont worry… just add 1 tablespoon of honey and a cup of water… stir it back into a liquid.   I am certain there are readers who “really no how to do this”…   if anyone out there has better advice please share it in the comments.

horehound-6
I am so bad at this candy thing that I keep a spoon and a glass of ice water near.  Towards the end I get some of the candy in the spoon and put it in the ice water.  When it is hard… not in any way sticky… it is ready.  Last year when I found this recipe.. there was a suggestion to “bite” it… don’t… you risk having it stick to your teeth… and will struggle to get it off.

Step 5:

Butter candy molds or flat pan and put mixture into the mold/pan.   If you are using a pan and want a nice shape you need to score it just before it sets up.   Let the mixture set up before trying to remove it

 

candy-molds
Here are my candy molds… would have preferred something more simple but these are all I have.

 

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Candy in the mold….I know… I am kind of messy…

 

 

 

Step 6:

 

You can coat it with sugar  just before it is completely dry (will keep it from sticking together) Store in moisture proof container…. THAT is all…  Many use these for cough drops… I eat them as candy… (they are probably not a good breath mint)

 

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Horehound candy without sugar coating

 

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Horehound candy with sugar coating.

I think you can follow this recipe with other herbs…  I might try it with lavender… what do you think

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9 thoughts on “Weekend with Horehound”

  1. It would be interesting to try with other herbs, I agree. I don’t have anything against horehound – it makes me thing of 19th century ladies in layers and layers of skirts attending to sick children – but I do have big patches of peppermint, spearmint, and bee balm/bergamot. And, more importantly, a big sweet tooth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to love horehound candy!!! What I remember about it most vividly was a time (I was just a child) that I got choked while eating a piece. I rememeber thinking, “This is what it feels like to choke to death.” I really thought I was going to die! Did I ever eat horehound candy again???? Oh, yea! Still love it to this day. Thanks for the recipe!!

    Liked by 1 person

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