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the 7 stages of candy making

(1 rating)
Recipe by
Karla Everett
Greenacres, WA

When making candy this holiday season it's always nice to have a candy thermometer but if you don't have one , These are very good steps to determine your cold water candy testing for your candy making this year.

(1 rating)
method Stove Top

Ingredients For the 7 stages of candy making

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How To Make the 7 stages of candy making

  • 1
    If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch!
  • 2
    As a sugar syrup is cooked, water boils away, the sugar concentration increases, and the temperature rises. The highest temperature that the sugar syrup reaches tells you what the syrup will be like when it cools. In fact, that’s how each of the temperature stages discussed below is named.
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    Thread Stage: 223-235° sugar concentration: 80% The earliest candy temperature stage is Thread Stage. At this temperature, the syrup drips from a spoon and forms thin threads in cold water.
  • 4
    Soft Ball Stage: 235-245° sugar concentration: 85% The syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water. Fudge, pralines, and fondant are made by cooking ingredients to the soft-ball stage.
  • 5
    Firm Ball Stage: 245-250° sugar concentration: 87% The syrup is formed into a stable ball, but loses its round shape once pressed. Caramels are cooked to the firm-ball stage.
  • 6
    Hard Ball Stage: 250-266° sugar concentration: 92% The syrup holds its ball shape and deforms only slightly with very firm pressure, but remains sticky. Nougat, marshmallows, gummies, divinity, and rock candy are cooked to the hard-ball stage.
  • 7
    Soft Crack Stage: 270-290° sugar concentration: 95% The syrup will form firm but pliable threads when removed from the water. Many different recipes require cooking candy to soft-crack stage, commonly including toffees, brittles, and butterscotch. Often, candies that are cooked to soft-crack stage feature a caramelized sugar flavor and a hard, pleasingly crunchy texture. Saltwater taffy and butterscotch are cooked to the soft-crack stage.
  • 8
    Hard Crack Stage: 300-310° Sugar concentration: 99% The syrup will form brittle threads in the water, and will crack if you try to mold it. Toffee, nut brittles, and lollipops are all cooked to the hard-crack stage.
  • 9
    Caramel Stage: 320-350° sugar concentration: 100% The sugar syrup will turn golden at this stage. Honey color produces a light caramel, while amber is a darker, fuller caramel. Anything darker than amber will result in a slightly burnt taste.
  • 10
    Caramelizing Sugar: If you heat a sugar syrup to temperatures higher than any of the candy stages, you will be on your way to creating caramelized sugar (the brown liquid stage)—a rich addition to many desserts.
  • 11
    Clear-Liquid Stage : 320° F sugar concentration: 100% At this temperature all the water has boiled away. The remaining sugar is liquid and light amber in color.
  • 12
    Brown-Liquid Stage 338° F sugar concentration: 100% Now the liquefied sugar turns brown in color due to carmelization. The sugar is beginning to break down and form many complex compounds that contribute to a richer flavor. Caramelized sugar is used for dessert decorations and can also be used to give a candy coating to nuts.
  • 13
    Burnt-Sugar Stage 350° F sugar concentration: 100% Watch out! Above about 350° F, the sugar begins to burn and develops a bitter, burnt taste.
  • 14
    A candy thermometer is always the best way to go when making homemade candies so when purchasing a candy thermometer, look for one with a clear readout and an adjustable clip so it can be attached to the side of a pan. To use the thermometer, stand it upright in the candy syrup so the bulb is completely immersed in the liquid. Do not let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Clip it in place.
  • 15
    Candy thermometers are the most accurate way of determining the temperature of boiling syrup. Always attach the thermometer to the side of the pan after washing down sugar crystals. Make sure that the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pan. Read the thermometer at eye level. Verify the accuracy of a candy thermometer by checking its reading in boiling water. Water normally boils at 212°F at sea level. If your thermometer does not read 212°F, either you do not live at sea level or your thermometer is not accurate. (Water always boils at a lower temperature above sea level because there is less air pressure.) To adjust the temperature given on a recipe, add or subtract the difference from 212°F as needed. For example, if your thermometer reads 210°F in boiling water and the recipe temperature is 240°F, cook the candy to 238°F, or 2°F less than the temperature stated in the recipe.