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Stages of Cooked Sugar Syrups for Candy - Temperature Guide

Much of candy-making starts with making a syrup from sugar and water, and then cooking it to certain temperatures depending on the candy being made. All of the temperatures required are over 100 C, which at first seems impossible because the boiling temperature of water is 100 C and it can't get any hotter. What you are doing, though, is driving water out of the syrup through evaporation, leaving behind molten sugar as an ever increasing percentage of the mixture as the water percentage diminishes. This makes the hotter than boiling water temperatures possible, and is also a gauge of both how cooked and how thick the syrup is, as well as what the nature of the molten sugar will be when cooled.

The stages of cooking sugar syrup are:

1. Thread Stage (106 - 112 C)
2. Soft-Ball Stage (112 - 116 C)
3. Firm-Ball Stage (118 – 121 C)
4. Hard-Ball Stage (121 - 130 C)
5. Soft-Crack Stage (132 - 143 C)
6. Hard-Crack Stage (149 - 154 C)

It takes a long time even boiling at a high temperature to hit 105, and then again to hit 110 C. After that, though, it all happens very, very fast, so you must be very attentive or you will whiz past hard-crack stage even and be approaching carmelization.

It is best to use a candy-thermometer to be sure of exactly where you're at. However, many people don't make candy often enough to want to buy or store a candy thermometer, so tests have evolved which involve dropping a small spoonful of hot sugar syrup into a (clear) glass of relatively cold water and guessing at the temperature by how the hot sugar syrup reacts in the water.

Cooking Tips

High altitude: For every 300 metres (1,000 feet) that you are above sea level, subtract 1 degree C (2 degrees F) from the temperatures given in your candy recipe.

Candy Terms

Firm-Ball Stage; Hard-Ball Stage; Hard-Crack Stage; Ribbon Stage; Rock Candy Syrup; Soft-Ball Stage; Soft-Crack Stage; Stages of Cooked Sugar Syrups for Candy - Temperature Guide; Sugar Syrup; Thread Stage

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Oulton, Randal. "Stages of Cooked Sugar Syrups for Candy - Temperature Guide." CooksInfo.com. Published 19 October 2013; revised 19 October 2013. Web. Accessed 03/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/sugar-syrup-stages>.

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