When I was a child and had a cold my mom always made me a simple, soothing Hot Toddy.
Her version was just hot water with a big squeeze of lemon and a dollop of honey. So warm, comforting, and helpful to clear mucous and congestion.
And today I still reach for this simple remedy at the first hint (or deepest part) of a cold. But today my Hot Toddy comes with a twist (or two) depending on what sort of sick we are and what remedies I have on hand.
Because Mom's Hot Toddy was good. But the Hot Toddy, reinvented? It's even better.
Below you will find my basic Hot Toddy recipe, plus simple variations to help you get on the mend fast.
(An aside: That's a jar of bone broth on the right. Because when you're sick, Hot Toddys are wonderful, but bone broth is too. Be sure to drink lots of chicken stock when you're down with a cold! It's so good, so healing, and so simple to make!)
The Basic Toddy: Lemon, Ginger, and Honey
Fill a pint jar with boiling water. Add four to six thin slices of ginger and the juice of 1/2 lemon, plus the squeezed out lemon half. (The ginger will boost the cold-fighting powers of the lemon and honey and adds a wonderful warming effect for anyone who is chilled.) Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Cool until quite warm but not hot, then add raw honey to taste.
Drink warm throughout the day.
The Herbal Toddy: Thyme & Sage
If you have a sore throat or a cough, relief may be as close as your spice cabinet!
Because as it turns out, sage and thyme are not only delicious culinary herbs, but celebrated medicinal herbs as well.
Add a sprig each of fresh or dried thyme and sage to your jar before steeping with the ginger and lemon. Don't have sprigs? Add 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp rubbed sage instead. Steep, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Cool until just warm but not hot, then sweeten to taste with raw honey.
The Super Toddy: with medicinal herbs
Now we're getting to the good stuff. Because the Herbal Toddy is no more difficult to make than the basic toddy if you have ingredients on hand to put it together. Stock up on these herbs now so you're ready for whatever winter brings! (I buy many at my local food coop, but if you can't buy them locally Mountain Rose Herbs is a great, trusted source to buy online.)
Astragalus root is a favorite immune boosting remedy for my family and countless others around the world. Add a slice of astragalus root to your toddy when you begin to steep.
Bring 2 slices of astragalus root and 1 C of water to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The volume of water will have reduced by about 1/3. Add 1 Tb of this decoction to your quart of toddy.
(I also always add astragalus root to my bone broth, too, to boost it's healing power!)
Wild Cherry Bark
Cherry Bark is a wonderful expectorant for deep, chesty coughs. Bring 1 Tb of cherry bark and 1 C of water to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The volume of water will have reduced by about 1/3. Add 1 Tb of this decoction to your quart of toddy.
Monarda Flower and Leaf
Monarda (bee balm) tastes like a it like oregano, but with a bit of a zing. It's an incredible remedy for sore throats and a brilliant immune booster. I keep a jar of monarda tonic on hand (fresh monarda infused honey and brandy) and stir a spoonful in when I add my honey. (I promise you a proper recipe next year during monarda season, but in for now dried monarda will do!)
Add 1 to 2 Tb dried monarda leaves and flowers to your toddy at the beginning of steeping time. Strain out with a mesh strainer before serving.
White Pine Needle
Pine is packed with vitamin c and is a great addition if a cough is involved. Make a white pine needle decoction as follows: Bring 2 Tb of cherry bark an 1 C of water to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The volume of water will have reduced by about 1/3. Add 3-4 Tb of this decoction to your quart of toddy.
The Toddy with Tincture Shots
Elderberry and Echinacea are my health boosting dynamic duo. I make a batch of tincture of both each fall, then take them often during cold and flu season. Truly, I credit these two herbs from my backyard for how rarely we get sick in our family.
Take up to 2 tsp per hour for adults and 1/2 to 1 tsp per hour for children at the onset of a cold.
Want more recipes?
I shared several hard-hitting of cough remedies in this post about pertussis. Those recipes are helpful for all manner of coughs and colds - not just whooping cough!
Also, my Winter Apothecary booklet is the perfect simple introduction to making plant medicines at home. It includes six nourishing, healing recipes written by myself and another local herbalist.
I am currently donating 100% of proceeds from the sale of this item to aid the Syrian refugee crisis.
This means that your purchase not only helps your family, but helps other families as well.
Be well, friends.