Thursday, March 31, 2011

RECIPE: Grandma's Homemade Cough Syrup

Vovó Zilca meeting my youngest and her 5th great-grandchild

So Grandma was nice enough to share her cough syrup recipe with me and now I will share it with you.  Look at how efficiently this train of information works! You ask, I deliver.

Diabetics beware! This is an old school recipe. That means that it comes with a lot of sugar! I'm just happy it doesn't have something crazy like whiskey in it.

What you need:

2 Cups Sugar
1/2 cup water
Well washed leaves from 1 stem of Ruta graveolens (also called common Rue)
2 tablespoons of bee honey (I don't know of any other kind of honey but since she specified...)

How to Make it:

  • You first need to caramelize the sugar in pot on the stove. Be careful not to burn it! It can not be burnt! 
  • Once nice and caramelized, add 1/2 cup of water. Mix well over low heat.
  • Now is the tricky part. Take the leaves and mash them into the caramelized sugar and water mixture. We are talking serious mashing. I don't know how the woman does it but you can't see any leaf in there when she's done. 
  • Let cool a little
  • Add in the 2 tablespoons of honey and mix well
And there you have it! Something tells me that it's not as easy as it seems. The stuff is the perfect consistency. It's amazing. Then again, after making a few thousand batches I bet it becomes second nature.

Finally, put it in a glass jar and this bad boy will last you for a while. Here's a picture to see what my fresh batch from Grandma's kitchen looks like:

Disclaimer: I have never actually made it. It would be a bitch slap to the Grandmother's face if I didn't call her and request it. She has called me twice since this morning to discuss the syrup.  When it was finished she said that she would find a way to get it to me tonight. Since it was late and raining, she did not expect me to come over with the boys. I told her I would be there first thing in the morning. 

A half hour later she called back. She told me she loved making the syrup for her great-grandson and that I was to call her for anything and everything I need.  

Then asked to talk to my husband. 

She told him was sending his cousin to bring the syrup so that my youngest could start taking it first thing in the morning. 

Sweet and stubborn, just like I like my Grandmothers-in-law! 


  1. Thank you for the recipe. Great-grandma to the rescue.

  2. Rachel,

    Gils is saying the name in Portuguese is "ARRUDA", he says it stinks like hell, if is that stinky it must be good ;)
    Some people call it "ARRUDA FEDIDA", because, well, it stinks.
    Pay attention at the "FEIRA", some vendors use it over one ear, it is supposed to keep "bad" people away, a tradition brought from Europe since the Roman days. Portuguese and Italian folks love it.
    It is also good to reduce gas, and induce "abortion" :(
    Powerful stinking herb!


  3. Exactly, Arruda! It's not too bad. Mixed with the 3 tons of sugar you hardly notice.

  4. My husband's Brazilian grandmother always recommends Cha de Boldo (preferably with fresh picked leaves from her yard) with honey and caramalized sugar for instant relief from the even the worst of colds.

    Thats for the syrup recipe!

  5. haha thats great, give the boys a hug from me... ok.. you can also give mr. mom one ..