We all love herbal candy, right? They’re better than simple mints, than chewing gum or fruit-flavored candies of any kind. They refresh your mouth and your breath just like a mint or a piece of gum would, they’re sweet and yummy just like fruit candy is, but their flavor is awesome and their benefits go beyond the taste and the refreshment. There’s even the type of herbal candy you can usually get in a drugstore when you have an awful cold and you’re afraid you’re going to cough your lungs out; only to have the candy magically help and relieve the sore throat and the coughing in just a few days of religiously popping the little pieces one after another. The eucalyptus kind always does wonders in this respect, just as the sage and the elderflower varieties do, too. But let’s not stop at alleviating the discomfort of common colds, since homemade herbal candy are good for so much more.
A candy full of a good herbal extract with antiseptic properties – such as sage, for example – can help cure sore throats, minor mouth and gum injuries and infections, as well as provide a healthy cleanse for your entire digestive system. Ok, so maybe they’re not really the healthiest treats in the universe, considering that they still contain sugar, but as far as hard candy goes, you couldn’t ask for anything better. Did we also mention that you can do them with tea extracts as well? Teas are herbal too, so whatever strikes your fancy can go into the recipe you’re making: don’t be shy and feel free to experiment. In what follows, we’ll provide you with 10 different DIY homemade herbal candy recipes and detail the properties and benefits of each of them; but you’ll see that the base recipe is more or less the same, so you can replace the specific herbal infusion with another infusion of your own choice, should you want something different.
How To Make Homemade Herbal Candy: The Basics
Before we move on to the actual homemade herbal candy recipes, take the time to look at this short video of the whole process, so you can understand the basics better. It only takes 6 minutes, but it was shot and shared with extra love by a couple of lovely and enthusiastic amateurs, so they totally deserve a bit of attention and a thumbs up. Also, if you’re feeling nervous about trying something as far from your cooking comfort zone as candy, perhaps watching a video that showcases the exact consistency of the warm candy will make you feel more confident about trying out your hand at it. It doesn’t feature herbal candy, but it’s a good place to start with when documenting the texture and consistency of homemade hard candy in general.
In preparation for the process, make sure you have everything you need. A good heavy-bottomed medium pot or pan, a candy thermometer (no, you can’t manage without one, but the good news is that they’re easy to find, especially online, and they’re pretty cheap so don’t fret if you don’t already have one), a shallow square or rectangular tray or plate, and a sharp knife are all that’s needed. Once you get those, all that stands between you and the delicious candy are the herbal extracts (which you can totally get from teas if you don’t have easy access to fresh herbs), water and sugar (or honey or syrup). Before you start actually making the candy, make sure your tools and the work surface (the table or the counter top) is squeaky clean, especially if you’re planning to store the candy for a while. Germs are something you don’t want in your candy, and even if you’re not making it commercially so there isn’t any safety standard to stand by, extra hygiene never hurt anyone. On the contrary, we’d say.
Also, please arm yourself with a bit of patience and prepare to give your full attention to these candies for about an hour or so, since the process of making them requires constant stirring and alertness. If you turn away for just a bit at the wrong time, it’s very easy for the whole mixture to burn out or for the bottom of the pan to become covered in chunks of solidified candy, since the mix is made at pretty high temperatures (hence the need for a special thermometer). After you’re done, you’ll also need to wait for a few hours before the candy hardens up and is ready to be cut out and wrapped, so once again, you will need to exercise your patience and not just down the whole platter while it’s still in between states. But other than that, there’s really not any rocket science behind it. So get ready to try out the most delicious homemade herbal candy recipes you’ll ever find!
Our Top 10 Homemade Herbal Candy Recipes
Without further ado, here are the variations we think are essential to try, for any fan of homemade remedies out there.
- Sage candy – This recipe is great for mouth and throat sores, mild colds, coughs and gum problems. The sage has a strong antiseptic component and tastes pretty delicious too, if you ask us. To make the candy, first infuse ¾ cup of sage tea, as strongly infused as you can. Usually, soaking 4-5 teabags in 1 cup will do the trick. Then, bring the tea to a boil in a medium pan, and add 2 and ½ cups of sugar and ½ cup of corn syrup and mix well. Keep mixing and stirring over medium heat, and allow the tip of the candy thermometer to dive into the liquid (but not reaching the bottom of the pan). When the temperature reaches 300 degrees F, the candy is ready. Keep stirring a bit, but turn off the heat. Powder the surface of the dish or tray you plan to use with a bit of corn starch or confectioner’s sugar, and then pour the liquid candy on it. Wait a few minutes until the candy can be lifted from the dish, and then cut it into long strips and each strip into pieces. If the candy gets too hard, you can always lift it out, reheat it into the pot and pour it back into the original dish. Good luck!
- Honey and lemon candy – Few things can be better for a sore throat than a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey. Since most of us can agree on this simple truth, why not try the candy version of it? To make the most intense honey and lemon flavored hard candy, just follow the recipe above, only replacing the tea with lemon juice and the corn syrup with honey. Then proceed exactly as you would for the sage flavor, or any other candy for that matter.
- Elderflower candy – The elderflower extract is used medicinally to help the body fight against influenza, swollen sinuses, colds, swine flu and so on, and for more serious diseases such as diabetes or bronchitis. It is also helpful in cases of constipation, to stop bleeding or to increase sweating. Last, but not least, it also tastes incredibly good. To make a batch of elderflower-flavored candy, follow the instructions above, using elderflower tea instead of sage tea and elderflower syrup instead of the corn syrup.
- Thyme and rosemary candy – Thyme and rosemary are both known for their wonderful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and also for how well they go together in Italian dishes. If you find the idea of thyme and rosemary flavored candy weird, rest assured that these herbs have successfully been used for desserts as well, even if you tend to associate them with savory dishes at a first glance. To make the candy, follow the instructions in the sage candy recipe, only replacing the sage tea with a thyme and rosemary infusion.
- Mint candy – The same recipe can yield a delicious mint candy, if you replace the sage tea with mint tea. The result will be not only a wonderful breath refresher, but the candy will also help with coughs, swollen sinuses, minor digestive problems like stomach pain, diarrhea and a lacking appetite.
- Chamomile and honey candy – Another classic combination, just like the lemon and honey tea, the chamomile and honey flavored candy will not only remind you of the childhood cup of goodness, but will also help with colds, infected gums or micro mouth lesions and so on. Follow the lemon and honey candy recipe, just with a strong chamomile infusion (4-5 tea bags in one cup of hot water) replacing the lemon juice.
- Maple candy with herbal bitters – Once you master the recipes above, it’s time to move on to a more complex flavor that would yield a more grown-up result. Also, from a strictly medicinal point of view, this recipe is sort of the jackpot: herbal bitters contain tens of different plants with different properties and have been used since medieval times to strengthen the body against all sorts of ailments. To counterbalance the flavor of the bitters, you need more flavorful syrup than corn or simple honey, and this is where maple will come in. Therefore, just follow the sage candy recipe and use maple syrup for corn syrup and ½ cup of water mixed with ¼ cup of herbal bitters instead of the tea infusion.
- Honeysuckle candy – Honeysuckle is a wonderful, wonderful flowery plant that usually blooms in the middle of summer and its extract not only tastes great, but can also help with the flu, no matter how broad the spectrum. Chinese traditional medicine has been using honeysuckle as a remedy for influenza for hundreds of years. If you manage to get your hands on some honeysuckle tea (specialty organic stores usually have it, or try finding it online as a last resort), simply use it instead of the sage tea in the first recipe we presented and you’ll be left with a fresh batch of the best homemade honeysuckle candy you could hope for.
- Green tea candy (or white tea, or black tea) – Of course, besides the purely herbal candy you could concoct, you could always use a strong infusion of green tea (or the tea of your choice) to make the candy. This way, you’ll be getting your antioxidants for your whole day in a more delicious form, or you could impress your guests and friends with some of the best candy they’re ever tasted. Just replace the sage with your favorite green tea (or white, or black – whatever strikes your fancy) in the first recipe and you’re good to go.
- Eucalyptus and honey candy – Last, but not least, we have to also introduce you to the eucalyptus and honey combination, since no serious list of DIY homemade herbal candy recipes would be complete without it. And, as we all know, sometimes we have a case of the flu so bad that it seems no mint or lemon candy or tea will ever be enough to take the edge off and soothe or painful coughs and swollen sinuses. This is where this candy recipe comes in, guaranteed to make even the most uncomfortable stuffy nose easier to manage. To make this candy, simply replace the sage in the original recipe with eucalyptus tea (available in specialty stores) and the corn syrup with honey. Have fun making them and enjoy!
Image source: Traditional Candy.