Medicinal Sweets or I Wish I Had a Sore Throat

Awhile back I shared a post about Candied Tangerines and how delicious they are in the bottom of a cup of tea. But I wanted to make something a bit more medicinal that still had that ‘yummy’ quality to it. I’ve been fascinated by herbal anything my whole life. Imagine! The created things on this planet combat disease and infection, promote healing and life and can manage to do it in a gentle, easily accessible way. It’s such a perfect system!

Everyone knows that when you have a sore throat, you are supposed to have hot water, lemon and honey. Why? Well the hot water soothes and reduces swelling, while breaking up any lingering congestion in your throat. The lemon will cut through mucus (because of the acidity), kill bacteria, and also help numb tender, sore spots. The honey coats your throat and sweetens up all that acid that’s working in the lemon. Honey has been recognized by every culture as having a multitude of healing properties and modern medicine is even starting to research this natural wonder for its curative powers. It is important that you use RAW HONEY, pasteurized honey cannot claim the same health benefits. Come to find out, the Koreans make a medicinal “marmalade” with just fresh lemon and honey. I just had to try this.

I cut up 2 lemons, dropped them in a small mason jar and poured honey over them until it filled up about 1/3 of the jar. You can immediately see the juice from the lemon being drawn out by the honey and the two swirling together. I just made mine, but if I let it sit in the fridge, over the next couple of months the lemon will darken and the mixture will thicken. The peels and pulp will break down as well and leave behind a golden, lumpy marmalade that I can scoop into a cup and poor piping hot water over. Oh, it almost makes me want a sore throat! (To speed up the process, you can also store this in a cool cupboard rather than the fridge.)

Because I enjoy getting the most out of what I make, and I know that there are other medicinal jujus that can help me with a sore throat, I’m going to add a heaping Tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger and let that candy along with the lemon. When the hot water hits that, I can breathe in the steam and get some benefit in my sinuses as the ginger stimulates circulation and will allow me to breathe easier, while at the same time, be soothing to my stomach, which will also be a bit stressed if I’m sick.

I’m excited to try this and I’ll be taking some finished product pictures as well to share with you.

After I published this article, I ran across this article on the medicinal powers of honey.


(old linkΒ

144 comment on “Medicinal Sweets or I Wish I Had a Sore Throat”

    1. Comment author madme,

      Sorry for any confusion on this… Also, it’s not that honey from stores in not good, but we often do not know if it’s raw or heated. Ideally, you would use raw honey simply because it is more natural and the health benefits of it have not been compromised by processing.

  1. Erika,

    I’m going to try this. I’m a runner and I guess it will come handy during winter time πŸ™‚
    I have a question: what do you mean by row honey? I buy my honey from the producer, who makes the honey (I have no idea how do you say that in English). And why is the honey from the store not good?

  2. Melanie,

    Hello! Thank you for this recipe! Mine has been in the firdge for about a month now, I used your recipe to make it. The lemons are still in full chunks, same with the minced ginger, so its not something I can really scoop into a tea and get the kids to drink since that would be so lumpy. I have never made anything like this, is that the texture it should be and if so, how do I get my kids to drink it lumps and all?
    Thanks for the help! πŸ™‚

    1. Comment author madme,

      It does take some time, and the colder it is, the longer it takes to break down. Try moving it to a different place in the fridge, like the door or a bottom shelf to speed up the process.

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  4. Melanie,

    Thanks for trying. 90% of their essential oils are more than okay to take internally, I guess I was just hoping you knew if they were safe to be heated with the lolly and how many drops you recommended. I will direct my questions to doTERRA. πŸ™‚

    1. Comment author madme,

      Essential oils are very potent! I would never ingest an essential oil that was not created for human consumption and then also diluted to a tolerable solution. I don’t really know about TERRA oils so it’s hard to answer this question directly.

  5. Gloria,

    I love this idea. We just used lemons for our first daughters birthday and we just made this. They will make great thank you gifts for our guests. And I love all your crochet blogs!!

  6. Laurel,

    I didn’t read through all the comments…

    Is this a syrup to be taken by the spoonful or are you supposed to make a tea out of it?

    Laurel in MN

    1. Comment author madme,

      I think it’s best administered as a tea but my dear Lumberjack eats spoonfuls of it when he has a sore throat. It’s much too strong for me and the kids to take it this way though. The flavors are very intense.

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  8. gabi,

    When I was a kid, my mom always made us lemon and honey filled up with hot water,when we had a cold . and I still doing it is an old remedy for sore throats and colds.

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    1. Comment author madme,

      I used about 1/8 of a cup of chopped ginger. If you like the heat (which is great for congestion) then you can use much more. Some folks have even said they added Cayenne to help with congestion and I’ll be making an “adult” version around here to try it.

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  12. YS Wong,

    Great article. I used to ferment enzymes using fruits or veges but i never thought of lemon with honey. I just wanna find out when all the process is done, how long it takes to keep in the fridge in order for me to enjoy the drink?

    1. Comment author madme,

      It really depends on the temp you keep it at. It happens very slowly in the fridge. You can use it for medicinal purposes right away and receive much benefit but the fermentation takes a few weeks.

  13. Mindy,

    Hello! I made some of this last week and dipped into it yesterday just to see how things were turning out…one word…AMAZING! My question is, after reading all of the prior posts, is there anyway to actually can this without losing the medicinal properties of the honey? (How warm can I heat it?) I was curious as it would be a great thing to have on hand as well as give as Christmas/Get Well Soon presents.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Warming the honey, or having it in tea that is ‘off the boil’ and drinking it right away will still give you great benefit from the honey. The issue comes with killing the good bacteria if you boil the concoction to give it a quick start, or if you use water that is too hot when administering it in tea.

  14. Pam,

    If you use your local made honey, it will have all of your local allergens in the honey and will help with your immunity.

    1. Comment author madme,

      I’m certain that it would work to achieve something of the same consistency, but you would not receive the health benefits of the honey itself. Agave has NO health benefits. It’s actually quite processed, much like corn syrup, and would not offer the benefits listed in the post. Agave sugar only serves as an alternative to cane sugar or corn syrup but itself is not a healthy alternative to sugar. It’s really frustrating to see the way it’s being marketed as a health food when it is certainly not any different than corn syrup.

      I use all types of sugar, including corn syrup, so I’m not apposed to using sugar in moderation, but I am apposed to an entire industry falsely promoting simple sugar as a health food.

  15. GG,

    I pinned this from Pinterest about a year ago & I wish I would’ve actually read it & made it then!! My 5 y/o frequently gets sore throats because of allergies & sinus issues. She was just crying earlier today because her throat was sore & I tried giving her a lil tea w/honey which she hated & took only a tiny sip. She hates honey but loves lemons so hopefully she’ll enjoy this the next time she has a sore throat & I plan on using it for myself as well!! Ty soo much for this recipe!!

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  18. angie m.,

    This winter I kept myself from getting the funk going arund by dosing myself with a concoction of green tea, honey, cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne. The taste was quite pleasant and the warm tea was soothing to my throat.

  19. Anna Menchaca,

    If you use raw honey and then heat it up to can the jars it defeats the purpose. Heating (pasteurization) destroys the natural medicinal qualities of foods. Also, people with exploding jars, you are supposed to leave it on a shelf for a few days not months. Maybe leaving the jar a little loose and then tightening it up after a few days, kinda like making fermented tea (kombucha) or any fermented foods. I’m trying to find one that I used before for menopause using oranges.

  20. Sara,

    I have made this before and I love it!!!! The site I saw added the ginger in with the lemon and honey and it is the best for sore throats or cold mornings. I will definitely be sharing with my friends!!

  21. shana,

    WHen it ferments I assume gasses are created? Has anyone ever experienced a exploding jar? I have had mine in the cabinet for about a month now and the canning jar top started to bulge up?! I was afraid it was going to blow so I loosened it and allowe dsome air to escape, I am afraid somewhat though that it will blowup in my cabinet while i’m not being attentive to it. Aprreciate any feed back

    1. Comment author madme,

      Chances are it got too warm! This is a slow process, it can take a couple of months for it to turn dark and thick and the fermentation is very slightly noticeable, it at all. If you wanted to speed that process up, you can set your jar in a pot of simmering water (about 2 inches deep) and heat it. But I would not over heat since you don’t want to kill off the good bacteria in the lemon and honey.

  22. Gretchen Popovski,

    A note about honey’s properties: Although it is a bacterial inhibitor, that doesn’t mean it can KILL all bacteria. Adding high water-content ingredients makes it less effective at inhibiting bacterial growth, so that bulging lid is definitely a sign of unsafe food. If you want to store it on a shelf, use the waterbath canning method for 15 minutes to seal. Refrigerate after opening. My waterbath treated recipe was perfectly fine today (15 months after I canned it), but it is now in the fridge until I use it up.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Gretchen, how did you find your way to this site? I’m curious because this particular post has been viewed 2000 times today and I’d like to thank the person that shared it.

  23. Janice,

    I made one batch and used a canning lid to cover the jar, after a few weeks it started to mold. I made a second batch and have it in the fridge uncovered. Should I seal the jar up and hope it doesn’t mold again? The first jar was kept on a shelf in the garage but it was during colder weather. What did I do wrong???

    1. Comment author madme,

      I don’t think it’s going to mold in the fridge, and I’d put a lid on it just so the fridge doesn’t pull the moisture out of it. It’s possible that it just got too warm, or that there was very happy mold in the garage!

  24. Mary,

    I just made my first batch! I wish I had done it months ago when I pinned it so it would be ready now!!

    @Kirie, you could always used an empty glass jar if you don’t have a mason jar!

  25. Georgiana,

    I think the antibacterial properties in the honey would take care of the bad germs…anyway, that’s my thought.

    Have you thought about adding essential oils to this mixture, like clove oil or anything like that?

  26. Amber,

    I made this recipe and remembered that you said we could stick it up on a shelf to speed up the process. Well, I forgot about it for three weeks. My son was sick the other day and I remembered my honey and went to get some. When I took it off the shelf the lid was bulging and we had a hard time opening it. Once it opened a huge amount of gas shot out the lid. It has obviously fermented which from reading here is supposed to be a good thing. My question is how do I know if it fermented in a good way or fermented too much and could make us sick. We live in southern CA so it wasn’t exactly on a cool shelf. Thanks for the help.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Don’t use it!!!!!!

      It should not do that. The process should be slow and cool, or you risk bad bacteria growing right along side the good.

      If you really want to make this and have it usable instantly as a marmalade, you can cook it for just a few minutes on the stove top, low simmer.

      If you cut the lemons up finely, then you can use it fresh without the ‘break down’ process.

      I hope this helps and thank you for asking.

  27. MarjorieElaine Peirce,

    When my children were babies (literally under 1 yr old – they are now in their 40’s) their doctor told gave me a ‘natural’ cure for colds and cough. (he was into more natural medicine in place of prescription) It went like this: Equal parts lemon juice, honey and hot water. The hot water would melt down the honey and then add the lemon juice and stir. The only other thing he added was a teaspoon of booze. (hard not wine or beer). I found adding Orange Gin removed the ‘alcohol’ taste. He said we could give this to a baby as young as 2 days old and until the day we die. (he did add that we might want to increase the amount of booze as we got older!!! lol Anyway, I would make up a large batch in Sept and store it in the refrigerator. It has been a yearly event since. This year, I have not made it up yet, so I will have to try yours with the actual lemon and raw honey.

    Another help for sleeping – that I got from the doctor – take a regular blanket (no quilts unless on the smaller size). Fold it length wise so that it is about 2″ high – 3 for adults. Place this under the head portion of the mattress of the child or adult. (between box springs and mattress if not a crib). This elevates the bed just enough so that the mucus does not collect in the sinus. But it is not enough elevation to make it uncomfortable. This is far better than trying to sleep on 2 pillows.

  28. Lyn,

    There is a garlic tea that I make when I feel a cold coming on. It is about 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, one lemon, honey and fresh ginger root. I just thought it would be nice to incorporate all those things in this marmalade. So easy when you’re sick to just put some in a cup and add water. I did make your recipe yesterday and added about a tablespoon of fresh ginger root to each jar. I cannot wait to get sick! Wait. Did I say that out loud?

    1. Comment author madme,

      I think it would be effective, but more like a soup or broth. That is an interesting idea… as a matter of fact, you could add some pepper and salt and make it a medicinal broth. Black pepper increases circulation. Now I think I’m going to have to toy with this idea. Thanks for sharing…

  29. Trina,

    I have always used honey and lemon in my tea when I have a sore throat or when my children/spouse does. I am going to try this as this will be so good in both hot water and in tea. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Marie,

    Love this idea but when I made it maybe I did something wrong. I used 2 lemons, but I slice it really thin, with raw honey. I let it sit in the refrig for about 2 weeks, it never thickened up, and it had a bitter aftertaste. Not sure what I did wrong, any ideas?

    1. Comment author madme,

      You did nothing wrong!!! BUT, depending on the ripeness, variety and flavor of the lemon (and peel) you may end up with an extra bitter batch. If you wanted to make another batch that was less bitter, you could use less peel. Perhaps you could use the pulp from inside, and just the colorful outer rind sliced off with a knife and discard the pith (the white spongy portion) of the peel. This pith is where the bitterness resides in citrus and can be very strong in some varieties. The Meyer Lemon has a thinner peel and less offensive rind but we don’t always know what we are getting from the grocer. I hope this was helpful, thank you for taking the time to comment Marie.

  31. Kristi,

    I’m addicted! Sore throat not required!
    I’m a singer in a band and this little diddy is excellent to keep my throat soothed during performances! πŸ™‚

  32. Caitie,

    I just made three jars of this wonderful concoction! I’m a kindergarten teacher so between talking all day long and being exposed to so many germs I almost always have a sore throat! I’m taking a jar to school to keep in my desk! Thanks for sharing this! πŸ™‚

  33. Elisa,

    Juices up lots. Also the lemons rise to top. I’ve been turning over daily. It’s sealed but some air is in it as I didn’t want to over flow the mixture before closing with seal. Is this okay?

  34. Kirie,

    Finding mason jars in my area is a bit rough. Would this work in tupperware as well? Really want to try this out as my husband gets the WORST sore throats (and he’s such a baby about it too!) and loves honey lemon cough drops and the such…figure this would be great for him when the time comes.

  35. Bridget,

    Excellent! I like your information better πŸ˜‰ I was told by friends when I asked exactly how much lemon and how much honey, they replied, “Just add more amounts as you start to run out, you really can’t get it wrong.” I was also told you can use lemon juice if you don’t have lemon. I am currently trying it that way and it seems to be working fine. It has gone dark already (the day after) and is thick. Also, honey is a natural antibiotic, known to kill bacteria, which makes me think this is why it would last longer in the fridge as well. Thanks for your response! =) Guess who is starting to come down with something..Yup, I will be going to the jar today or tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

  36. Bridget,

    So, what does the end product look like now? (I noticed you made this post in March?) =) I found your site while hunting for this recipe which is the same as another I found. They said in the other recipe that the shelf life in the fridge is about 3 months.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Mine has darkened, and according to the Korean family that showed me this, the shelf life is about 3 years in the fridge. At about 3 months the juices will start to ferment, that’s when most folks throw it out, but the Koreans are into the fermented foods and they keep it and let the fermentation break down the rind. It will continue to thicken, and eventually, become a tangy jam. Here in America, we chuck stuff in the garbage the second it ferments, not so in other countries where the cooking and remedies were established pre-refrigeration. The strong alcohol taste in mine has mellowed considerably, and now it tastes like a strong, thick cough medicine.

      My best friend is Korean, and her fridge is like a wonderland to me, and her pantry is so mysterious!

      Thanks for stopping in,

    1. Comment author madme,

      I’m not sure, but it will naturally ferment if it last long enough, and once fermented it would be good for at least a couple of years. It’s really an amazing natural remedy.

  37. doreen,

    This sounds great! I can’t wait to make it. How long does this last in the fridge or pantry. Want to make sure I have it ready for winter but don’t want to make to soon.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Mine took forever! But, my second batch, I heated the honey first, about 150 degrees, and it sped up the process. Within 6 weeks I had a marmalade like product. I’m still working on the best way to do this. But even when the batch is fresh, it makes a wonderful tea.

  38. Coni,

    I may have missed the answer to this question, how long before it’s ready to use? I just made a jar, and you aren’t kidding that once the honey hits the lemons it starts juicing right away! It already smells wonderful!

  39. Genna,

    This sounds amazing!!! def going to get started on making it for the weather change. one question… did you put the ginger in the jar all together or right before it all goes in the hot water?

  40. Cathy,

    hello, thx for your information! i made this for my boyfriend who is coughing and he found this really works to sooth his sore throat:) may I know around how long I can keep this in the refrigerator?

    1. Comment author madme,

      Yay!! I love natural remedies and have discovered that many times, they work more quickly than medications. Thanks for trying this out!

  41. Gloria,

    My Dad use to make this when I was a kid. Except he use to add whiskey to it. When he felt a cold or something coming on he made this and put an end to his sickness right quick!

    1. Comment author madme,

      Mel, I used enough honey to cover about 1/2 of the lemons. The second the honey hit the lemons, it started drawing the juice out and pretty soon there was enough liquid to cover all the lemon and ginger. I didn’t use any hot water in the recipe itself, but when I use the marmalade I drop between 1-2 Tablespoons into the bottom of an 8oz tea cup and fill it with water to sip.

  42. J-girl,

    Thanks for this great idea.
    I have a lemon tree in my yard and struggling to find enough things to do with my lemons. This is on the top of my list to do this weekend – and might make jars for the whole family! πŸ™‚

    1. Comment author madme,

      I’m told it will last for a couple of years! The honey and the acid in the lemon are natural preservatives, so it has a long life.

  43. Michelle,

    No need to wait … this goes great on German pancakes.. or any type of pancake I am sure.. it is also great on chicken! In the post is says ” The peels and pulp will break down as well and leave behind a golden, lumpy marmalade… ” and it is so true… you can use it just like a marmalade… great on toast and pork chops too.. it is just good on everything!

  44. wefarm,

    Cinnamon is another natural ingredient that can be added to the lemon/honey mixture to help with coughs and sore throats. “back in the olds days” my parents would also add a good shot of whiskey to the hot tea to ensure a good rest for whomever was ill. They would also lay hot cloths on our chests and neck — as hot as we could tolerate. Then they would add in the mentholadum and wrap us in flannel.

    1. Comment author madme,

      I am very familiar with the hot clothes and menthol for colds! My mom used to do that to me all the time and now I do it for my kids, they think I’m crazy but it works. I’ve been reading recently about the medicinal benefits of cinnamon and cocoa powder and I’m working on coming up with something there too. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions Wefarm, I really appreciate you stopping by.

    1. Comment author madme,

      You would want to leave it on since the essential oils of the lemon are contained in the rind. The entire lemon works together to give you the potent medicinal benefits.

  45. Barb,

    I made Lemon/Lime Honey “Tea” this morning and am drinking it right now. It’s delicious…..and it makes my throat feel oh so much better. Thanks

  46. Lisa B,

    Thanks for sharing with such beautiful pictures. I have a sore throat this morning, wish I had some lemons.

    Congrats on being Homestead Revival’s Featured Homestead this week also.

    1. Comment author madme,

      I filled the jar about 1/3 with honey, and then the juice started just flowing out of the lemons. It made enough liquid to cover all the fruit.

  47. Mrs. Z,

    I am reading this sipping on my hot tea with lemon and honey added. Yep, it’s allergy season and I’ve got chest congestion and a sore throat. :/ I am going to make some of this marmalade right now so that we have it around this spring! Thanks!!

    1. Comment author madme,

      This is supposed to help fight allergies if you use local raw honey! I just found this out and need to add it to the article. Apparently, because the local bees use local pollen, the honey has natural is like an inoculation against the local pollens. Eating local honey has become part of immunotherapy practices to fight allergies.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Thank you so much! I’ll send you those pics just in case you would like to feature that article in the future. Happy Spring!

  48. Amy,

    I too have always been fascinated with all things herbal, for just the same reasons you stated!

    We love honey over here for treating sickness, and I thought I should mention for anyone who tries this that you should definitely use RAW honey, because if you just use standard honey from the grocery store it won’t have the same healing benefits.

    I’m definitely going to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  49. Kelli Kurfurst,

    This is very close to my families old recipes. We added the honey ,lemon and Rum. This would help with the sore throat and help you sleep. Never thought of adding the ginger. That sounds great.

  50. Cara Louise,

    marvelous- thank you so much for sharing.
    this is my prime allergy season, and with it comes sore throats.
    i love to sip tea- and this, well THIS is just wonderful.
    lemons and honey are going on my shopping list!
    love and prayers dear!

    1. Comment author madme,

      Oh Cara, I’m so glad! Yes we are always dealing with some form of sinus or throat irritation around here and I’m sure it will get worse with the Spring pollens coming so I wanted to whip this up to be able to use in a few weeks.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Honey does not rot, and the acid in the lemon is a preservative, so in reality, it could keep for years if you kept it in the fridge. Thanks for stopping in!

    1. Comment author madme,

      Thank you Gail. I must say, I have as much fun taking the pics as making the stuff on the blog. Sometimes I forget what I’m posting about because I obsess over the photos too much. Oops.

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