How NOT to Make Horehound Candy

Jul
2

Post by community member:

horehound2

Horehound (marrubium vulgare)

I began studying herbs when I was in high school. While other people were at football games and movies, I was in the library. My taste in books was varied. I read lots of murder mysteries and I loved books about plants. Although I never planted a garden back then, I drew elaborate garden plans on old math papers and eventually all that planning practice paid off when I was a graduate student and found myself living in an apartment in an old house, the back yard of which had been turned over to me to ‘do something with’. After considerable earth moving and wall building, one shovelful and rock at a time, I was ready to plant. I planted an eclectic selection of herbs, annuals and perennials and some of those plants are still with me today, three houses later. For the first time, I could look into all the gardening catalogs I had been acquiring and actually buy some of herbs I had been lusting over.

That year my love affair with all things herbal began. I have steadily increased the numbers of herbs in my collection and increased the size of my gardens to compensate. My herbal experiments have become increasingly daring and my successes and failures have become increasing spectacular.

Take for example the first time I tried making hard candy. I had been studying herbs for some time and I came across a recipe for horehound candy, something that my grandfather used to really like and my mother still likes. I acquired a taste for it when I was in college in Salt Lake City. I had had some horehound candy every time I had gone to visit the Beehive House, a local historic spot, which is one of my very favorite places in Salt Lake City. The tour through the Beehive House is basically a look-but-don’t-touch affair so one of the things they do there to make visitors feel like they are actually connecting with the spirit of the place is give a little lecture about the medicinal qualities of the plants in the substantial and very beautiful herb gardens surrounding the main house. At the end of the tour they passed around horehound candy for people to try. Then they passed around a waste basket for people to spit the horehound candy into and hard core Beehive House people, like me, spent the next five or ten minutes trying to watch, without laughing right out loud, as people screwed up their faces in disgust and as parents told their children that, “No it isn’t poison, and yes, in the olden days people really did like that stuff and it isn’t polite to talk badly about the tour guides for not warning us, so please keep your voice down.” I always thought that they should pass out the horehound at the beginning of the tour as sort of an initiation to weed out the people who can’t hack the realities of history (and who spend the entire tour asking questions like, “Did they really sleep in those beds? Did they really cook on that wood burning stove? I just don’t know how anyone could live in a place without electricity.”) Just think how much longer the carpets would last.

horehound

At any rate, I decided I was going to make hard candy with horehound from my own garden. I was prepared–I had water, enough horehound to drive away museums full of horehound haters, sugar, candy thermometer, big pan for cooking, wide pan for cooling, and special, finely ground sugar for sprinkling.

First, I made the horehound syrup by making a very strong horehound tea and straining out the cooked leaves and then adding the sugar. To make horehound candy, you have to cook the syrup to the hard ball stage, then pour it into a pan to cool, then you cut it and roll it in the finely ground sugar. Easy.

The first night I boiled that syrup for three hours. It got almost hot enough, but not quite hot enough and by then it was 11:00 p.m. and I decided to put it away until the next day. The next day, early in the afternoon, I started cooking that syrup again. I checked the temperature; almost, but not quite, to the hard ball stage. I decided to let it cook, but I was growing impatient, perhaps even a bit testy, and certainly defensive about my little experiment. When my husband, got home from work, he asked what was that, uh, peculiar smell. (It was at this moment that I was struck by the fear that I had married a closet horehound hater. Why, oh, why had I not thought to ask him about this before we got married. Would the judge consider this an appropriate reason for divorce?) I told him to leave me alone unless he could make a positive contribution to the process. He asked, “Is the syrup supposed to be turning brown like that? That’s the first time I ever saw horehound candy that color. Wasn’t it supposed to be sort of greenish?”

It was at that moment that the wooden spoon I had been holding mysteriously jumped out of my hand and grazed his left ear as it gracefully sailed by his head. To this day I maintain that it was simply another manifestation of whatever alien presence had invaded my house and affected my candy. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Brown?? The recipe had never said anything about brown. Neither had it said anything about a cooking time of seven hours. Two hours later, when it was clear that we had entered the very brown stage, but were no closer to entering the hard ball stage, I decided to pour it into the cooling pans anyway. I lined the pans with foil and poured a gallon of brown horehound goo in. Later, when we were trying to pick little bits of foil out of the ‘candy’ so we could at least see what the stuff tasted like, we decided that foil was a bad idea. Remember that.

It never got hard. We waited for the next two days, hoping it would harden. I finally threw the whole sticky brown mass into the garbage. I should have marketed it as a special effects material for use in movies about mysterious foul smelling goo that preyed on the citizens of small Midwestern towns.

I turned my attention to figuring out what went wrong. I thought maybe it was our altitude. People said, no, it isn’t the altitude. We have no altitude, we live in the Midwest for heaven’s sake, almost at sea level, and did I really follow the recipe and surely there’s a logical explanation.

I thought maybe someone sabotaged it. People said that was highly unlikely and that it would take someone with a gas mask on to get close enough to it to do any damage, and since I hadn’t had any visitors with gas masks on we could safely rule that out. In fact, I hadn’t had any visitors at all since roughly the time that I began boiling the vile concoction. Coincidence? Must be.

My mom asked if I had followed the directions exactly and I had said, “Yes, the proportions were exact.” She asked how in heaven’s name two cups of water turned into a gallon of syrup and I confessed that I had had so much horehound tea that I had quadrupled the recipe. (I like horehound candy.) She said that in her experience it was never a good idea to double a hard candy recipe; it never reached the hard ball stage. Remember that.

Needless to say, my brown horehound goo is a family legend now which I took far, far more than my share of ribbing for. I found out later that my temporary ineptness in the kitchen had a genetic source when someone revealed my parents’ first attempt at making apple butter. They had boiled and boiled and boiled that applesauce for three days and the blasted stuff wouldn’t boil down to apple butter. Finally, one of my mom’s friends told her that it would boil down faster if they took the lid off. Remember that.


Robin from Rurification blogs at Rurification.

Do you have a recipe post or kitchen-related story to share on the Farm Bell blog?
See Farm Bell Blog Submissions for information, the latest blog contributor giveaway, and to submit a post.

Want to subscribe to the Farm Bell blog? Go here.




Comments

  1. bonita says:

    I( dunno Robin, that’s a lot of stuff to remember! I, too, used to read old herbals, They really are fascinating! Too bad about the horehound, goo, though.

  2. langela says:

    You can make hoarhound candy at home?!!! How did I not know this? Our family loves it (yes even my young children). I must plant some hoarhound. Thanks for all the info.

  3. threadtales says:

    Too funny! Thanks for the great story!

  4. lisabetholson says:

    This reminds me that the same man mistake would take place in this house. He doesn’t like it either. Make more and PLEASE let us know how it tastes. I really love the stuff. BLESSINGS

  5. lavenderblue says:

    Wow, Robin, I think you had my teenage life. Once I found a copy of the Mother Earth News Almanac in our high school library, I never looked back. Needless to say I did not attend my senior prom.
    Herbal and mysteries and homesteading, that was me all over. Mysteries by Susan Albert Wittig are particularly good, one of her series involves herbs and murder. What’s not to love?

    I also love hoarhound candy. Alas, have tried unsuccessfully several times to grow hoarhound.

  6. Dede ~ wvhomecanner says:

    LOL and great story! My grandmother always kept a milk glass candy dish full of horehound candy for sore throats. I had a love/hate relationship with it then but I still like a bite or two now. The pink spearmint wafers in the other dish – I never got used too LOL.

    dede

  7. CindyP says:

    Love your story, Robin! Thanks for the great post!

    I have never heard of horehound before! Had to google 🙂 Interesting…

    Dede, I LOVED the pink spearmint wafers in my grandma’s bowl!

Add Your Thoughts



Search Farm Bell Recipes

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Filter by Categories
All Recipes
Appetizers & Snacks
Bagels
Bean Soups
Beans
Beans, Grains & Rice
Beef
Beverages
Biscuits
Blog
Boiling Water Bath
Bread Machine
Breads
Breakfast
Brownies
Budget
BWB Condiments
BWB Fruits
BWB Jams, Jellies, Butters & Preserves
BWB Marmalades & Conserves
BWB Other
BWB Pickles & Pickled Stuff
BWB Salsas
BWB Sauces
BWB Tomatoes & Combos
BWB Vegetables
Cakes
Candy
Canning
Casserole
Casserole
Casserole
Cereals
Cheese
Cheesecakes
Chilis
Chowders
Cobblers
Coffee Cake
Cold Remedies
Condiments
Cookery 101
Cookies & Bars
Cream Soups
Crisps
Crock Pot
Crowd-Size
Crusts
Cupcakes
Cure & Smoke
Dairy
Dehydrating
Desserts
Diabetic
Dips
Doughnuts
Dressings
Egg Dishes
Eggs
Entertaining
Fat-Free
Featured
Fermenting
Fillings
Fish
Food Photography
Freezing
Frostings & Icings
Frozen
Fruit Breads
Fruit Cakes
Fruit Salads
Fruits
Gift Basket Goodies
Giveaways
Gluten-Free
Goat Cheeses
Gourmet
Gravies
Griddles
Grill-Outdoor Cooking
Hard Cheeses
Herbs & Spices
Holiday
Homemade Cheese
How To
Ice Creams
Ingredients
Ingredients & Mixes
Jell-O
Jell-O Salads
Kid-Friendly
Kitchen Gadgets
Kosher
Lactose-Free
Lamb
Leftovers
Lettuce & Greens
Low-Carb
Low-Fat
Low-Sodium
Main Dish
Marinades
Meat Salads
Meet the Cook
Muffins
Non-Dairy
Old-Fashioned
One Dish Meal
Other Breads
Other Breakfast
Other Condiments
Other Dairy
Other Desserts
Other Main Dish
Other Salads
Other Side Dishes
Other Soups & Stews
Other Special Diets
Pasta
Pasta
Pasta Salads
Pastries
PC Beef
PC Chicken
PC Meats
PC Other
PC Poultry
PC Soups & Stews
PC Veggies
Pets
Pickling
Pies
Pizza
Pizza Crusts
Pork
Potato Salads
Potatoes
Potluck
Poultry
Presentation
Preserving
Pressure Canning
Pressure Cooker
Puddings & Custards
Recipe Requests
Relishes & Chutneys
Rolls
Rubs
Salads
Salads
Salsas
Sandwiches
Sauces
Scones
Seafood
Side Dishes
Soft Cheeses
Soups & Stews
Sourdough
Special Diets
Special Occasions
Steam Juicer
Stocks
Stuffings
Substitutions
Syrups
Tarts
Tips & Tricks
Tortillas & Pitas
Using FBR
Vegan
Vegetable Breads
Vegetable Salads
Vegetables
Vegetarian
Wild Game
Yeast Breads


If you would like to help support the overhead costs of this website, you may donate. Thank you!



We Want to Meet You


Farm Bell Recipes is all about you! If you're a member of our community and have been submitting recipes and/or blog posts to Farm Bell Recipes, we want to meet you!
Go to Meet the Cook and submit the form to be featured.



Canning Tutorials



Recent Reviews and Comments

  • I tried to open my document for Cappuccino Marshmallows. I made them last year for a Xmas. Eve Party and several guests asked me for the recipe. They were fab. ...
    User AvatarBonny on Marshmallows
  • I have that exact same pasta maker! It's marvelous! I love that you can adjust the thickness by turning a couple of knobs. Enjoy!
    User Avatarfowlplayfun on My New Italian Kitchen
  • Faith, what a lovely tribute to your Dad! I decided to read your post because of the title, and the immediate recollection of my own Dad's 'favorite Thanksgiving Sandwich', which, ...
    User Avatarfieldfare on My Dad's Thanksgiving Sandwich
  • On so many levels, I consider this to be an absolutely wonderful post, and one that is so certain to influence my own Work, I know I will be mentioning ...
    User Avatarfieldfare on Quick, Easy Lunch for Company
  • I wrote the following in a note to Suzanne about this reference to the old, out-of-print book, when I was having difficulty signing up for this site, earlier today. Since ...
    User Avatarfieldfare on Cheesemaking Without Benefit of Mail Order
  • I had no idea that BBQ Rub was local. Not sure how old this thread is, but I just bought some of those pork steaks from the IGA here in ...
    User AvatarDaftHarlot on BBQ Rub
  • I have made this recipe quite a few times. I use whatever wine I have and it is good with any of it. I have even used dried mushrooms chopped ...
    User Avatarfemforrest on Dede's Golden Mushroom Soup
  • Hi from a Welsh lass living in Bulgaria. I've been canning for years but I seem to be having a problem with this one. I'm probably being extremely stupid! You ...
    User Avatarjobo123 on Canned Coleslaw?!
  • I have a question. The instructions say to bring to a boil. Do I need to add any water to the pot or just use what liquid there is from ...
    User AvatarCheryle on Condensed Tomato Soup for Canning
  • And for some reason I didn't see the responses above which give ideas. Thanks for those!!
    User AvatarCassie on Recipes Using Kefir
  • I recently started making kefir because I was told that it is good for dogs who are sick. I have my uncle's dog (uncle passed away)and he is skinny and ...
    User AvatarCassie on Recipes Using Kefir


Latest on the Forum

The Farmhouse Table

  • Anyone baking today ? by Staci Lynn
    Mixed Berry Cobbler - making do with what we have on hand, not wanting to go into town unless it's absolutely necessary. I hope everyone is doing well...
  • Anyone baking today ? by mamajhk
    While I am not planning on doing any baking today, I am staying in for the most part.  We have been for awhile.  Hubby and I are just getting over som...
  • Anyone baking today ? by Joelle
    Hello everyone. I hope everyone  is doing alright during this trying time.  We have not gone out for nearly a month now. I was I'll and diagnosed with...
  • What's on your kitchen table? by apilinariosilvia
    I have a Pizza Dough on my kitchen table right now and I am going to make a Chicago Pizza. I will be taking this recipe idea from ilFornino and also I...
  • What's for Dinner? by leandjean
    I used both the slow cooker and pressure cooker for dinner tonight.  I put pork country ribs in the slow cooker with an asian sauce.  Cooked rice in t...

The Canning Pot

  • Using Frozen Peaches by Junebug
    Hope somebody can give me some info.  I have several bags of frozen sugared peaches and am wondering if I can use them like can peaches.  Would I thaw...
  • What are you canning today? by Miss Judy
    Made some strawberry/cranberry jam last week from Florida strawberries and frozen cranberries. I am planning on making some apple pie jam today if my...
  • What are you canning today? by TonnyFillet
    brookdale said Just finished canning 4 jars of apple jelly made with organic apple juice from the store. Jam  and apple butter are the only things I h...
  • What are you canning today? by brookdale
    Just finished canning 4 jars of apple jelly made with organic apple juice from the store. Jam  and apple butter are the only things I have canned. Sti...
  • What are you canning today? by TerryMcC
    Tried something new, just got done canning 6 qts. of French onion soup.  Now on a cold winter day all I have to do is open a jar, heat it up top with...


Thanks for being part of our community!