My most favorite winter go to recipe for coughs is wild cherry and astragalus lollipops. I recently took the recipe and turned it into gummy bear lozenges. My daughters love the lozenges because they feel like they are getting more, when really they are getting the same amount as a lollipop. Sneaky, right! The lozenges are fun because it lets you give them to a younger child without worrying about them choking.
Before we get to the recipe, I wanted to address some concerns I have heard: herb availability and sugar. The main ingredients in this recipe are wild cherry bark and astragalus. These herbs can be tricky to find so here are a few places you can purchase them: online at The Bulk Store, Mountain Rose Herbs, or at your local apothecary. Natural Grocers sometimes sells these herbs as well, but they are not always organic.
Now to address the elephant in the room, the sugar. If you have already peeked at the recipe then you probably already freaking out about the sugar. But before you say you aren’t going to do it, consider this: organic sugar retains some of its natural vitamins and minerals, making it a better option than refined sugar in these candies. In fact, some people opt to use Sucanat (retains more vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper) instead of organic sugar. If you choose to do this, expect the finished product to be a bit darker than expected, and it melts slower so it may burn a bit before it is fully dissolved. If all you have is refined sugar (aka white sugar), then feel free to use it. Overall the end product contains a minute amount of sugar per individual candy, as the sugar is divided into 30 lollipops, or 100’s of 1tsp (5ml) gummy bear candies.
Wild Cherry and Astragalus Lollipops
Jessie Hawkins, Vintage Remedies
1/2 ounce dried, organic wild cherry bark
3/4 ounce dried astragalus root
1 cup organic sugar
Cherry juice or concentrate (optional)
Combine the herbs with 2 1/2 cups of distilled water in a small saucepot over medium to medium low heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to decoct (to extract the essence from something by heating or boiling) the herbs for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the process to ensure that all of the water does not evaporate. Remove and strain. There should be between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of strong decoction. Add enough cherry juice or concentrate to make the total 1/2 cup of liquid. (The concentrate gives the final product a stronger flavor.) If you don’t use cherry juice, use distilled water instead.
Prepare lollipop molds, or gummy bear molds, by spraying or coating with coconut oil and inserting sticks. Alternatively, you can coat a large piece of parchment covering a cookie sheet with oil.
Since I have NEVER had any success with the parchment and oil method, I’ll tell you want I do. I take the baking sheet and put a good amount of cornstarch or powdered sugar into the bottom of it, shaking it so it lays flat. Then I take one of those little condiment cups and press the bottom of it into the powder, creating the perfect lollipop circle! After that is finished, gently press the lollipop sticks into the circles and use my thumb, or my daughters thumb, to make indents around the lollipop molds. These indents make the perfect little round lozenge molds.
After the mold or tray has been prepped, combine the liquids with the honey and sugar in a larger saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour into the prepared molds or circles on the prepared pan. Caution: Boiling sugar is extremely dangerous and can result in severe burns! Work quickly as the lollipops will harden quickly.
Let cool; remove from molds. If you live in a humid area, the bears or lozenges, will need to be dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon, or cocoa powder to help prevent sticking. They will also need to be stored quickly as they will turn into blobs if left out of the mold and on the counter.
Package each lollipop in an airtight container – usually a small bag tied with a ribbon or cord. Be sure to label them properly. For gummy bears, place them in a small air tight jar or container. I have found that storing the lollipops or bears in the fridge or freezer works best and helps prolong their shelf life.
Based upon the studies and traditional use, a dose is a single lollipop every 2-4 hours or as needed until the cough subsides and the throat feels better. This is based on adults and older children. For children under the age of 5 get 1 teddy bear every 2-3 hours until the cough subsides and the throat feels better.
It is not recommended for children under the age of 1, do to a potential choking hazard. Please make sure to watch small children when giving gummy bears or lollipops.