Monday, October 15, 2012

Mama Elizabeth's Diary: How To Make Old-Fashioned Horehound Candy

ith winter coming up, I felt it time to break into the annals of some serious herbal care, since taking care of oneself naturally has always trumped anything artificial. For this, it was time to work the same advice that Mama gave me. See, Mama--also known as Aunt Elizabeth to some--was the same farm-woman whose WWII era advice and knowledge got to me. Her folk wisdom is no different in this case.
Fall and Winter signal scratchy throat and cough season. Mama's secret weapon? Horehound candy. If you've never heard of it, be prepared for some serious folk-wise knowledge...

orehound candy is an old-fashioned "candy" with herbal benefits to the throat, as Common or White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is considered an expectorant and helps ease cough and respiratory issues and soothes the throat.

The candy, itself, is usually found in stores and homes in Europe, with an acquired taste there. I will say, from having made this candy with my mama, that too much horehound, and horehound, undiluted with sugar or lemon (or anything else) is QUITE sour or bitter.
 This candy is prepared from extract obtained from the leaves, flowers and stems of horehound plant. The horehound plant belongs to the mint family and it has medicinal uses that date back to the  Roman and Ancient Egyptian era. In America, it was noted that colonial era Americans used to "growe the bitter weede" in their garden in order to make "candies from boiled sugar."

How to Make Traditional Horehound Candy

*1/4 Cup dried horehound leaves, flowers and stems
* 3 quarts water
* 3 cups brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon butter
* 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar (you may omit this but the candy will not be "mellow"/will be slightly bitter)
* Powdered sugar

*Medium or Large saucepan
*Cookie sheet or large flat baking dish
*Candy Thermometer
*Wax paper
*Sharp knife

1.Pour water into a pot, and and bring it to a boil.

2.Remove the pot from heat and add the horehound to it. Leave horehound to steep in the hot water for about 30 mins.

3.When the water is slightly warm or cool, strain the leaves, flowers, and stems.

4.Take 2 ½ cup of the liquid and pour it into a saucepan.

5.Add cream of tartar, brown sugar, lemon juice to it and bring the liquid to boil.

6. Use your cooking thermometer and boil until liquid reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit--then add butter and continue boiling the liquid until the temperature reaches 312 degrees Fahrenheit.
NOTE: DO NOT STIR LIQUID at its boiling stage
7. Once the temp of 312 degrees is reached, remove from heat and pour the liquid into shallow buttered pan or a buttered cookie sheet and leave it as it starts to harden.

8. Before it gets completely hard, use a buttered sharp knife to cut into bite sized squares.

9.Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar... OR pull the pieces like taffy, and roll these into a ball and then roll into powdered sugar.

10. Wrap these in wax paper to store them.

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