Pastilles – Sweet Soothing for a Sore Throat & Beyond
My version of pastilles are little balls of herbal powder held together by something sweet. They’re ideal for sore throats but can be used as a tasty dose of herbal medicine for many different issues, including belly troubles, anxiety or any number of other things. My original recipe came from the wonderful Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce Wardwell, but I’ve long since quit looking at the recipe so my version may vary a bit from hers at this point.
These are super simple to make, easy enough for children to help with and far less messy or demanding than most lozenges (though those are definitely worth learning to make as well) and require very few ingredients. They’re very transportable, children love them (usually) and to top it all off, they’re extremely effective. Many kinds of medicines can be made with the pastille recipe, a very quickly and easily absorbed form of medicine administration that is gentle enough for almost anyone. It also preserves the herbs extremely well, better than alcohol in some cases. So don’t just limit your use of these to seasonal colds, but explore their many applications for children and adults alike.
Mucilaginous herbs like Elm or Mallow work very well as a base for pastilles, they’re sweet, soothing and they help to bind the pastille together. They’re not necessary, but I definitely prefer them, especially for sore throats.
- Finely powdered herbs of your choice (say 2 parts Mallow root, 1 part Sage leaf and 1 part Rose petals)
- Honey, Maple Syrup or some other thick, sticky sweetener. If you use honey, you can use an herbal infused honey for added benefits. Rose or Sage honey is amazingng and ideal for this kind of thing.
How much you make is up to you, but I suggest starting with a fairly small batch until you find what works best for you, though I’ll provide you with some of my favorites.
Ideally you want to make about half of your herb powder mix something like Elm or Mallow to provide a sticky base. The other half depends on what your using them for. For sore throats, I really like Rose and Sage, either by themselves or together. They’re both astringent, antimicrobial, healing and anti-inflammatory and Sage has a special affinity with the throat. Beebalm, Elderflower, Cottonwood (Poplar) buds, Calendula and even Osha can make good combos and some people like a bit of propolis thrown in.
Then you simply slowly add enough warm honey to make a thick paste, about a teaspoon at a time. If it gets too gooey you can add more herb powder to thicken it back up. Keep in mind that the gooier it is the harder it will be to dry it. Then take small pinches of the dough and make about marble sized (or smaller) balls, setting them aside on a piece of wax paper or something similar.
After you’ve finished the whole batch, let the balls dry in a warm, dry place. You could put them in the oven at a very low temperature, on top of the fridge or in the wood stove warmer. Depending on what method you use and your climate, they’ll be dry and fairly hard within a few hours to several days. You want them dry to help prevent spoilage and so that they dissolve slowly in the mouth rather than being just a gooey lump.
Once they’re dry, wrap each one separately in wax paper, cling wrap or similar and then store in an airtight moisture-free container. If stored properly, they’ll often last several years. The mucilaginous and astringent properties tend to last a lot longer than the volatile oils (in plants like Rose or Sage), so you’ll notice a slow change over the years, with the gooey soothingness usually the last property to go if you used a nice mucilage like Elm or Mallow.
Note: If you don’t finely powder the herbs, you’ll have gritty bits in your pastilles, which may put off some children or texture challenged adults. If you’re powdering your herbs yourself, you may want to put them through a fine sieve as well.
Also, check out my previous post on Herbal Honeys for more ideas and recipes.