DIY Herbal Honey Cough Drops

The flu season is upon us, and coughs are a-plenty.  People seek relief from cold and flu symptoms in various ways, including pharmaceuticals, and medicated candy such as Halls.  Halls, owned by Cadbury, is a leading supplier of cough candies.  Aside from the fact that they suppress coughs, they contain an unacceptable amount of chemicals.

Active  Ingredient: Menthol 9.4 mg Inactive  ingredients: acesulfame potassium, aspartame, beta carotene, FD&C blue no.  1, flavors, isomalt, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, soy lecithin, water (www.gethalls.com)

In one example, Halls peppermint variety, the only active ingredient is menthol.  The inactive ingredients are used for flavour, color and texture.  How many of them do you recognize?  How many of them do you recognize as ingredients you try to avoid in general?  None of the inactive ingredients are going to boost your immune system at a time when you need it the most.

Herbal honey cough drops are easy to make, use all natural ingredients, soothe your throat and cough, and give a natural boost to your body when it is fighting a virus.

Peppermint Oil:
Peppermint oil contains a large amount of naturally occurring menthol.  Menthol is used, among many other things, as an antipruritic to reduce itching, as a topical analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, in decongestants for chest and sinuses, and to produce a cooling sensation.  These work together to soothe an itchy, sore throat and calm a cough.  Caution: menthol, in very large doses, can be lethal.  Peppermint oil can contain up to 55% menthol so it is important, as with any essential oil, to use only very small amounts of it.

When choosing a peppermint oil, make sure you choose a therapeutic grade oil from a company you trust.  Most essential oils are not therapeutic grade, are meant for aromatherapy and may contain ingredients you don’t want to consume.  Read the notes at the bottom to find a high-quality, therapeutic grade essential oil.

Honey:
Unpasteurized honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties, although some of these properties may be lost with the high heat needed to candy the honey.  Honey has been used over the years to soothe coughs, heal wounds and prevent bacterial infections.

Ginger:

Ginger is a natural immune booster and is used to help with congestion. It also contains antiviral properties and is a great natural cold and flu fighter.

Optional:

Cold and Flu teas: check the label of your tea to discover the benefits the herbs provide.

Materials:

  • Thick-bottomed pot
  • Silicone candy molds, parchment paper and/or greased cookie sheet
  • Candy or deep fry thermometer (must reach 300F)
  • Metal whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. raw honey
  • 3 inches peeled, organic ginger root
  • 15 drops therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil (essential oil droppers are not standardized. Use common sense.)  Make sure your essential oil is therapeutic grade (food grade).  Not all essential oils are created equally.
  • Optional: herbal Cold and Flu-type teas: Echinacea and Roots Tea by Mountain Rose Herbs or Traditional Medicinals teas
  • powdered sugar for dipping in afterwards

Directions:

  1. Boil ginger root and tea in a pot with 2 cups of water.  Reduce “tea” to about 1/4 cup by simmering, on low.  Strain liquid.
  2. Heat honey and tea mixture in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat.  It will try and boil over, so adjust temperature to keep if from boiling over.    Keep a thermometer in the pot to observe the temperature.  Stir constantly.
  3. Once the temperature passes 225F your water has entirely boiled out, and the honey mixture will rise in temperature rapidly.  Stir continuously to prevent scorching.  Continue to stir until temperature rises over 300F.  This is the temperature needed to “candy” the honey, and make it hard. Remove from heat.
  4. Wait a few minutes for the candy to start to cool (but not start to harden).  Add therapeutic grade peppermint oil.  It may smoke a little as the impurities burn off.  Stir rapidly.
  5. Pour immediately into candy molds or onto parchment paper that has been coated with powdered sugar or onto a greased cookie sheet.  Allow to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, dust each candy with powdered sugar.  Wrap with parchment paper and store in a sealed container for up to a month. If you aren’t going to use them immediately, store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Tips:

  1. Whole New Mom demonstrates how to make powdered sugar from organic sugar to avoid GMO icing sugar.
  2. Most essential oils are NOT therapeutic grade and are meant to be used for fragrance instead of consumption.  Make sure the essential oil you are using is therapeutic grade.  Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are high quality, organic and therapeutic-grade.
  3. Peppermint essential oil contains approximately 50% menthol.  Menthol, though naturally occurring, is toxic in large quantities.  Use common sense!!
  4. When adding the essential oil, don’t breathe in the steam.  It is a very strong menthol at first and may irritate your sinuses.
  5. Honey naturally absorbs moisture from the air.  Keep candies in an air-tight container to prevent them from “melting” and sticking together.
  6. Caution: Do not use when pregnant or on children under 2.  (based on warnings for peppermint and raw honey.)

This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop #95, Homestead Abundance Link-up #6Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday, Simple Living Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday #72, Thank Your Body Thursday, Get Real Frugal Friday #3 and Fat Tuesday, January 22nd.

 

 

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe that rises like white!

I have searched for and tried MANY 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I have ruined countless loaves, and wasted a lot of flour and money trying to make 100% whole wheat bread.  I have tried adding gluten, lemon juice, citric acid, soy lecithin and more to get nice-rising 100% whole wheat flour.  My family has eaten many a failed loaf.  Eventually, I gave up.  I accepted the “fact” that you cannot make 100% whole wheat flour that rises nicely without using strange ingredients and additives.  I settled for a recipe that was about 70% whole wheat and the rest white flour to make it rise.  The recipe never completely satisfied me though.  It was somewhat crumbly and just didn’t really cut it for a sandwich bread.

My mother-in-law came across a great recipe that made 2 loaves of bread, was made from 100% whole wheat flour, and it rose nicely.   I was very envious, but I didn’t want a 2 loaf recipe, I wanted an 8 loaf recipe.  And I didn’t think you could just straight out double (or quadruple) a bread recipe without using too much yeast/salt.  Since I couldn’t figure out how to double it, I started searching again for a good recipe.  I came across a recipe from Heavenly Homemakers that made 2 loaves, and called for soaking the flour first.  I was intrigued by all the good feedback she received and so I tried it.  I had to add significantly more water to the recipe but I was able to make it rise nicely.  My first success!

I contacted Heavenly Homemakers and she informed me that she had doubled it straight across with good success.  So I tried it and it worked beautifully.  I added some other good stuff like flax, hemp hearts and chia seed, and ended up with a recipe that works perfectly, every time.  I am still excited about it!  (Simple pleasures, you know!)  It makes 4 loaves, and I haven’t tried re-doubling it yet to make 8 but that is my next step.  I don’t want to be baking bread more than once a week.  ** I have now successfully TRIPLED the recipe!  15 loaves in one go!

Today my friend, who swears she has never been able to successfully make a yeast bread, white or otherwise, is visiting.  I had her make the recipe following my instructions.  The bread looks fabulous!

Here is the recipe:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Ingredients:
  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)
Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional)
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       If you are adding extra seeds or grains you may need to add up to 1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water ONLY as needed.
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes.

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :).

11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft.

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level.
  • Yeast amounts in a bread recipe can vary based on altitude. Click here for an altitude adjustment chart.
  • You can add 3 whole eggs to the ingredients to make the loaf more moist/chewy.
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
  • If you aren’t adding extra nuts or seeds then don’t add the extra 1 cup of water unless it feels too dry.
  • I now have TRIPLED this recipe with great success!  I can make 15 loaves at one go :D
  • Click here for a video tutorial on how to knead bread.

Please let me know how this recipe works for you!  Feel free to share the recipe, giving credit where it’s due :).  Enjoy!

This recipe has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #22, Our Simple Lives: Simple Living Wednesday Link Up, Turning The Clock Back: What’s Cooking WednesdayThe Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #3, Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Fresh Bread Fridays and The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.