What is horehound? It is funny how things escape my memory until a word, picture or article suddenly shakes my brain. Lately I have been reading more and more about herbs and the health benefits of using them. So many grow wild all over the world. It is a shame we have gotten away from using them for medicinal uses.
I ran across the word “horehound” and it spurred my memory to my early years. In the fall Dad would get horehound and horehound candy in for the winter. You might ask “What is horehound”? This ancient herb is the oldest known natural cough remedy. It is used in the treatment of bronchial complaints, for laryngitis, a sore throat treatment and even for lack of appetite. Horehound was one of the herbs found in the medicine chests of the Egyptian Pharaohs in Roman times. Sometimes it was even used for an antidote for poison.
Horehound is one of the bitter herbs. The best way to take horehound is steeped in teas. Because of its bitterness it needs to be sweetened with sugar, a natural sweetener like stevia or honey. Horehound candy became very popular as a candy as well as for medicinal reasons.
Cover horehound with water in a large heavy saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.
Strain horehound from liquid and allow tea to settle.
Measure 2 cups of the tea into a large heavy kettle; add sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar.
Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly until mixture reaches 240F degrees.
Add butter and continue to boil until mixture reaches 300F degrees.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice; pour at once into a buttered 8 inch square pan.
As candy begins to harden, make scores in squares so it will be easy to break when hard.
Remove from pan as soon as candy cools and break apart. Store in airtight container.
Horehound can be found growing all over North America; on the prairies, grassy or rocky areas or on the outskirts of evergreen forests. It prefers fast draining soil, neutral to mildly alkaline soil and full sun and will tolerate droughty conditions. Seeds and plants of horehound can be purchased to grow your own. The plants only grow to 1 ½ feet so they make a great border plant.
What is horehound and any precautions to be taken? There are some precautions when considering the use of horehound so consult your doctor before. Pregnant women, nursing women and people with liver or kidney diseases are warned not to consume horehound. Although horehound is not a toxic plant, large studies have not been done to rule it safe.