I promised you some candy talk, so grab your sugar and let’s get started.
All candy making begins with a sugar syrup. Different types of candies are made by changing the concentration of sugar in the syrup. Different levels of sugar concentration produce different textured candies. Caramels, marshmallows, brittles and preserves all begin with the same basic ingredients but achieve different characteristics based on how the syrup is cooked.
Before thermometers were a common kitchen accessory, candy makers had developed a way of gauging the level of a syrup by testing its behavior in cold water. A small drop of syrup would be added to cold water and depending upon the sugar concentration it would behave in one of six ways. These stages are known as -
Thread - thin syrup, forming a thread before even dropped in the water
Soft Ball - forming a ball, soft and shapeable when pressed between fingers
Firm Ball - forms a firm ball
Hard Ball - forming a hard and solid ball
Soft Crack - makes a cracking sound when added to the water and forms brittle threads
Hard Crack - makes a cracking sound when added to the water and forms hard, brittle threads
Though the cold water test is reliable, some great minds have made things easier for us by calculating the temperatures for each behavior in good old fahrenheit. (Most candy thermometers have these stages highlighted.) Remember, boiling points will vary depending on your elevation.
Thread: 215-235 degrees
Soft Ball: 235-240 degrees
Firm Ball: 245-250 degrees
Hard Ball: 240-265 degrees
Soft Crack: 270-290 degrees
Hard Crack: 300-310 degrees
It’s time to get our candy game on.