01 of 09
No Need for a Thermometer
Making candy at home is fun but not many people actually own candy thermometers. Because candy cooks at a much higher temperature than most meat you generally need a special cooking thermometer made for candy. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold water method.Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
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!
Follow along to find out exactly how to know what the temperature of your candy is based on how it reacts in cold water.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
04 of 09
Soft Ball Stage: 235 to 245 F
The syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water but flattens once removed from the water. Recipes for fudge, fondant, and other softer candies should be heated to the soft ball stage.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Firm Ball Stage: 245 to 250 F
In this stage, the syrup is formed into a stable ball but loses its round shape once pressed. This is also a great stage for molding, which means it's ideal for caramels.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
07 of 09
Soft Crack Stage: 270 to 290 F
The syrup will form firm but pliable threads when removed from the water.
Many different recipes require cooking the candy to the soft-crack stage. Among the most common are toffees, brittles, and butterscotch. Candies that are cooked to soft crack stage often feature a caramelized sugar flavor and a hard, pleasingly crunchy texture.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
09 of 09
Caramel Stage: 320 to 350 F
The sugar syrup will turn golden at this stage. A honey color produces a light caramel, while an amber-colored syrup makes for a darker, fuller-tasting caramel. Anything darker than amber will result in a slightly burnt taste. Be careful: It's extremely easy to overheat and burn your candy once you've reached the caramelization stage. Cleaning up burnt caramel can be a sticky endeavor. But caramel made just right is a rich treat.