Posted by: briellethefirst | March 10, 2012


Sometimes called White Horehound, Marrubium vulgare is in the Mint family but is best known as the main ingredient in ages-old-fashioned cough remedy. It’s also supposed to keep spiders, flies and scorpions out of the house and garden. You can use the leaves and stems to flavour ale as you would use hops, although it can be an acquired taste. Horehound can also be used in dried arrangements and potpourri. As a cold remedy it is used in teas, syrups and is best remembered as candies or lozenges given to children as recently as my Mother’s childhood (and resurrected in my youth). Used as a treatment for gas and indigestion, it’s best known as a cough and sore throat remedy. Most of my older relatives have mentioned it at one time or another. Of course, you wouldn’t want to give them to very small children or anyone who would be in danger of choking on a lozenge.

Horehound is a perennial that grows between 1 and 2 feet tall and may be used as a border plant, but has a rangy habit that some gardeners find rude and invasive. Indigenous to waste places of Britain and Europe, it now can be found wherever people have planted it. The scent is strong and somewhat like Thyme. The wrinkly, wooly leaves can be up to an inch long. After about 2 years it will put out white flowers. Black Horehound produces purple flowers and has similar properties but stronger flavour that may be less appealing. It likes full sun and well-drained soil but will survive a surprising amount of abuse and neglect unless the neighbourhood cats decide they like ti as a catnip substitute, which is why this post will have to wait for a picture from my garden.

To make the candy you’ll need 1/4 cup (or 1/2 cup fresh) Horehound, 2 cups boiling water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, peppermint flavouring, food colour, 1 cup superfine sugar, a saucepan and a jelly roll pan…and a strainer. If you use brown sugar the colour of the finished candy will be darker.

Take the horehound leaves and steep them in the boiling water for about 15 to 45 minutes. Don’t boil them pour the boiling water over them and allow them to steep, as if you were making a tea. Strain the plant parts out, keeping the liquid to add into a heavy saucepan. Butter a jelly roll pan for later. What’s a jelly roll pan? It’s like a cookie sheet, but with low sides. So, on with the recipe.

Add the sugar and light corn syrup to the horehound tea and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to the hard crack stage (300-310 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don’t have a candy thermometer you can take a cup of cold water and drop a little bit of the syrup in. At this stage it will form hard threads that will break when bent.

Cooking candy

Candy cooking

BE VERY CAREFUL, sugar is very sticky and can cause severe burns at this point! Add a few drops (1/2 Tsp or maybe a cap-full) of peppermint flavouring and maybe some colour then pour onto the buttered jelly roll pan. It will be thick and stiffen fairly quickly, so have a large knife ready to score the sheet of molten sugar but be careful, it cools fast but you still have to take care not to burn yourself while working with it.

candy cut into lozenges as it cools

candy cut into lozenges as it cools

Use a large knife to score into lozenge-sized pieces, usually square or diamond-shaped. The pieces will take on pillow shapes as you press the knife into the sheet of cooling, molten sugar. It works better if you press straight down instead of trying to slice it. The knife won’t usually stick to the sugar (surprise!), but if it does you can give it a very light swipe with butter or oil. The inside stays hot longer, so you may have to keep after it to keep it from flowing back together. When set and cool enough to handle break the lozenges apart and give each a coating of superfine sugar by dredging them in about a bowl with about a cup of superfine sugar in it. Store in a tin with double layers of waxed paper separating the layers of candy. This recipe also makes pleasant candy by substituting any herb or combination of herbs for the horehound.



  1. […] Horehound […]

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