Try this sweet recipe with the immunity enhancing elderberry for kids and adults alike. These elderberry lollipops are delicious and the perfect thing for a dry, hot throat, and hoarse cough.
I am going to start this post by admitting that I tried to make elderberry lollipops last year and failed – miserably. Like blooper reel fail. Like catastrophic fail. Like burned candied spattered on my tablet fail.
I was not proud.
Bound and determined to right my wrong and arise successful from my previous failure, I had plans for this year’s elderberry crop. Well, the elderberry lollipops happened. And the result was far from a failure. In fact, it was a screaming success. Er, omit screaming (because I did a lot of that last year) and replace with resounding. I like that better. The elderberry lollipops were a resounding success. There you have it. The elderberry lollipops are decidedly tasty, and as my littlest would say “healthy cause mommy’s plant medicine is in it”. These elderberry lollipops are chock full of antiviral, antispasmodic and demulcent herbs to soothe and relieve painful coughs and irritated throats.
I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.
Cough Qualities and Tissue State
Coughs can be lumped into one of two categories: wet, heavy and loose OR dry, hot and hacking. Wet, heavy coughs are often associated with allergies, asthma, bronchitis, COPD, common cold or flu, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. They are frequently observed concurrent with runny nose and low grade fever in milder cases. These elderberry lollipops are not well suited for a wet, heavy cough (but these horehound lozenges are). Hot, dry coughs are often experienced with upper respiratory infections and are particularly troublesome in cases of croup or whooping cough. These coughs are often worse at night and when in a warm room. I formulated these elderberry lollipops to address the discomforts associated with this specific type of dry, hot cough.
Elderberry for Kids
As an herbalist and a mother, I am often asked about safe about safe and effective herbs for children, especially during the cold and flu season. Given the choices, my #1 pick is elderberry for kids. Since raw elderberries can be slightly toxic, causing upset stomach — I prefer medicinal recipes that have been heated when preparing elderberry for kids. This syrup or these elderberry lollipops are among my favorite recipes for children and adults alike. Plus I find that the novel presentation ensures “client compliance” like no other recipe containing elderberry for kids does!
Perhaps I should mention that this recipe is more about function than the literal form. Translation: feel to form this candy into any kind of drop or lozenge you prefer. I decided on the lollipop form (I use these silicone molds), because I am rather uncomfortable giving my little ones hard candy. Especially so when they are sickly, fussing, and given to coughing fits. The candy on a stick form gives me a tad more confidence their safety. It also allows them to leisurely suck on the lollipops, warming it to a syrup which coats their throats. Generally, I prefer a different herbal medicine delivery method than sugar. But, then, there is no disputing the almost universal partiality to sweetness. So if my “plant medicine” needs to ride to battle on the back of sugar (or honey,) so be it.
Elderberry Lollipop Ingredients
Speaking of plant medicine – here is the low down on the herbs that I have chosen for these medicinal lollipops:
(Sambucus nigra): Eldberries are a powerful immune system stimulant. Recent studies indicated that elderberry preparations may shorten the duration of cold cold and flu. This flavorful antiviral serves as the foundation of these medicinal lollipops.
(Althaea officinalis): Demulcent and anti-inflammatory, marshmallow root boosts the throat coating action of the candy while also simultaneously reducing the perceived heat and discomfort.
Wild Cherry Bark
(Prunus serotina): Undoubtedly the familiar flavor of few commercial brands of cough drops, wild cherry bark acts as a powerful antispasmodic, banishing hacking, tense, coughing fits.
Elderberry Candy Making Tips
A few words of wisdom about candy making. This is no time to multitask. Candy making requires undivided attention – so keep kids, pets and pestering spouses out of the kitchen while you are in the process. Prepare yourself to stand at the stove for quite a while as there is no way to expedite the cooking process without courting disaster (see first paragraph). Slow and steady wins the race here. Have your molds prepared and at the ready. Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from splatter. Furthermore, damp or humid weather will greatly impact cooking time and results. A humid environment may result in particularly sticky lollipops. Once cooled and set, the lollipops should be coated in corn starch, powdered sugar, or (if you are feeling especially herbal) ground slippery elm root to prevent stickiness.
These lollipops are easily and quickly prepared with fresh, frozen, or dried (see recipe for variation) elderberries, dried wild cherry bark, and marshmallow root. Liberally dusted elderberry lollipops can be stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, or just prepared at the first sign of the telltale cough. Elderberry lollipops are a sweet and whimsical way to deliver some potent plant medicine to the young and old.
Elderberry Lollipops Recipe
- 2½ cups water
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blue or black elderberries or ½ cup dried
- ¼ cup marshmallow root
- ¼ cup wild cherry bark
- 2 cups organic cane sugar or honey
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar to prevent crystalline texture
- corn starch powdered sugar or slippery elm root for dusting
- Gently simmer water, elderberries, marshmallow, and wild cherry bark for approximately 20 minutes. Strain away solids and discard. The resulting liquid should measure two cups exactly; adjust accordingly.
- In a 4 quart saucepan, combine warm elderberry liquid with sugar and cream of tartar.
- Over medium high heat, bring mixture to a gentle boil. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. Continue boiling until hard crack stage is achieved, about 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Some candy makers advise not stirring during this time, however, I have not experienced any seed crystallization issues using a wood handled silicone spatula)
- Pour into molds pre-prepared with lollipop sticks. You may need to press the sticks firmly into place and/or roll them slightly to ensure the stick stay in the center of the lollipop. Cool until set; about 30 minutes. Dust with preferred ingredient and store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
- Saucepan and tools are easily cleaned of residual candy with the use of boiling water.
Cough Symptoms and Treatment. (n.d.). http://www.parents.com/health/cough/cough/
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Wet Cough – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments – Causes. (n.d.). https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/lungs-breathing-and-respiration/wet-cough–causes
Wood, M. (n.d.). Study Guide to the Six Tissue States [PDF].
My kids never hesitate to take elderberry syrup as a preventive, but the pops would be nice while they have something. And it seems like these would keep for a few weeks, in case you hear things are going around.
Hi Courtney! My kids love pretty much any elderberry preparation that I come at them with, too! These should store well, kept cool dry and well powdered.
By the way, lovely blog. I will be following!
According to Ayurveda heating honey over 104 degrees makes it toxic.
I really understand your concern about heating honey. I prefer to use honey raw myself. Heating honey destroys the enzymes and many other benefits that raw honey provides. That said, I wanted to give my readers option for the sweetener — some people do not use cane sugar. In the Ayurvedic tradition consuming heated honey increases “ama” which coats the mucus membranes — which, in the case, treating a dry, hot, spasmodic cough might actually be desired. Not only will it soothe the acute irritation, but it will help therapeutic actions “stick” to the affected areas. I will also note that I believe cane sugar would also have these ama increasing properties.
I think we can all agree that reducing sugar intake in general is best for our health. In daily life, I try to offset sugar intake with fiber intake. That said, short term use of medicinal candies, such as these and others, might help bring immediate relief to individuals.
I love this idea! I always worry about my kids choking on a lozenge. Im not sure where to buy frozen elderberries? Would they be at a health food grocery store like whole foods?
One time, the dentist office receptionist gave my toddler a little sugar free candy. She sat quiet and still while eating it, and still managed to choke (then throw up all over me and the office carpet because she was so upset after). Then, there, in the middle of the dentist’s office, the idea of the lollipops where born (whilst mopping up vomit, tears, and the last vestiges of my dignity)… True story…
As for frozen elderberries, I doubt you will find them frozen. I actually freeze those that I don’t tincture from the fall harvest, so I usually have a few small bags kicking around for herbal projects. If you can’t find fresh or frozen, dried will work, just see my note in the recipe for the amounts! Thanks for commenting!
Oh my goodness, thank you for sharing this. I attempted cough drops a few years back and failed miserably. This gives me hope to try them again. And try these delicious looking lollis.
You are very welcome Angie!
I swear that I have far more failures than successes. My candy disasters have been pretty amazing. And not in a good way.
I have also learned that 3:00pm on Christmas Eve when you need to leave by 5:30 isn’t the best time to start toffee. 😉
Will these be okay for pregnant or breatfeeding women? How about toddlers? TIA!
Hi, Mia! There is insufficient scientific evidence to conclude whether or not elderberry is safe during pregnancy or lactation. As a herbal practitioner, I am reasonably comfortable suggesting elderberry use to pregnant or lactating women, so long as they avoid excessive use and there are no contraindication based on medications or chronic illness. In the case of this recipe, I would leave out the cherry bark because it may have some uterine action.
As for toddlers, two years or older, I am comfortable there too – just monitor closely as you would if when they eat anyway!
can this be made as a syrup to take on a spoon? xxx
Hi Rachael! So, the recipe here is really geared toward the candy making aspect. Below is link to my elderberry syrup recipe that might give you better results. You can substitute the marshmallow and cherry bark in place of the rose hips and astragalus if you like.
How long do the lollipops keep in an airtight container?
The lollipops would keep for well over a year if well dusted in starch or sugar and kept in perfectly dry conditions in a sealed container. That being said, I think fresher is better and would encourage my readers to discard and make a new batch every three to six months.
Wild cherry bark, is this a liquid or a substance? Sorry, new at this.
No need to apologize! Wild Cherry Bark is a dried herb that you should be able to field in a well stocked bulk medicinal herb store or online from place like Mountain Rose Herbs!
About how many lollipops will this make?
This recipe produces a generous two dozen lollipops. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less depending on a few variables like how accurate your candy thermometer is and how quickly you are able to pour into the molds, as well as the possible variation in mold sizing. It might be wise to have a tray of powdered sugar or cornstarch on with dimples premade by fingers to pour any extra candy into (they will cool and set up like a lozenge). I hope that makes sense!
Thanks for stopping by the blog Alisa!
Should these be taken daily or only when Ill?
Hi Brittany. If you want to use them daily to support the immune system I would recommend just omitting the wild cherry bark (it is a cough suppressant — no reason to use it if a cough is not present). Hope that helps!
TY SO MUCH! Have you experimented with honey by chance to try to retain its benefits? I’m looking to make these for our kiddos as the cold season gets close.
Hi Kim! To retain the most health benefits of honey, it should remain in its raw, unheated form. Sometimes I create a “syrup” of sorts uses tinctures combined with honey, and you can also try infusing honey with dried herbs. If you want to avoid can sugar in this recipe, I with consider agave nectar to maple syrup.
I am so excited to have found you and this post..TY! Where should I get herbs? Could I use a liquid elderberry, marshmellow instead do you think just make sure it comes to the right temp? I’m loving the honey add in place of sugar. As an herbalist, how do you think the benefits change from Raw honey to a heated one? TY SO MUCH!
Thank you fro your enthusiasm, Kimberly! I get most of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs — but dried elderberry can be hard to find due to its popularity. If you have elderry juice, I would use that, of course. Just not a tincture, because the alcohol content would mess with the end results. Here is my affiliate link for a dried elderberry supplier on Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017V3P5YO?ie=UTF8&tag=nitty06-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=B017V3P5YO
As for honey vs sugar — once the honey is heated to the temp required in this recipe, it loses a lot of its unique health benefits. It may also produce a more caramel-y flavor. Feel free to use either honey or organic cane sugar! Hope this helps!
What age are these recommended for? I am flying with my 15 month old and in the past she always gets sick when traveling. I was hoping to make these to boost her immune system and for her to have something to suck on during the flight. She is a good eater and we have been doing baby led weaning since six months of that makes any difference.
This is most likely a stupid question, but I just made these. I have never made candy before, so I have no idea what I’m doing, I kept the heat low because I was anxiously awaiting the hard crack stage. When I finally got there (it took a long time) i feel like the final product tasted a little burnt. I stirred mostly the whole time. Do these have a strong (possibly interpreted as burnt) taste, or do you burn the sugar if you take too long to get to the hard crack phase?
There are no stupid questions! Candy making is a bit tricky and there are a lot of variables to consider. While you may perceive a caramel-y flavor, you should not taste a bitter or burnt flavor at all. Because candy making is so temperamental and a just a few degrees can make or break a recipe, the source of issue may be a couple of places. I had more than a few fails before I upgraded my thermometer to a higher quality one than I found in the grocery store. If you plan on doing candy mas worth the investment to ensure good results. Secondly, there may be a hot spot in pan or on your burning. If one spot gets even slightly hotter than the rest, it could scorch in that one spot causing that burnt flavor. With any candy making, getting the perfect temperature is key and it is a little easier said than done!
These look amazing! I have everything we need, but unfortunately do not have a candy thermometer. Is there any way you can give me an estimate of the time it takes on medium heat to reach hard crack point? Thanks!
I don’t really have a time that it takes to reach hard crack, because a lot depends on the weight of your pan and the temperature of you particular buner. You can use the “water” method for testing the stages. Here is a link: https://www.thespruceeats.com/hard-crack-stage-520364
I hope this helps!
For beginners…not. You need to stop using verbiage that isn’t familiar to someone who’s not made candy and doesn’t know what a hard-crack is or has a candy thermometer…and can you have a recipe that doesn’t include things I wouldn’t have just laying about if I didn’t go exploring some odd herbal store that is not within 2 states of me? I have 5 gallons of picked elderberries and am ready to do something, but this is not even up my alley as it’s still too complicated. Make it the KISS method for us kitchen klowns who don’t know all your terms. Thanks.
Hi. This recipe looks so good. Thanks for posting it. I just made the herbal infusion but the resulting liquid is only 1 cup. How should I adjust the recipe? I’m unclear.
Yes, you will need to adjust to two cups by adding more water. You may have had a vigorous simmer that evaporated too much.
Hi. Apart from the elder berries are the other 2 herbs dried? I need to make this for a herbal botany project but I’m unsure about the marshmallow root?
Yes, the other herbs are dried.
Awesome. Thank you! 🙂
Hi, can I substitute the honey for maple syrup in this recipe? Thanks!
Hi! What is the serving size for a 6 year old have per day?