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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
I’ll admit that I only use my candy thermometer once a year and that is during the
holidays. Making candy during the holidays was a family tradition that I grew up with.
My grandmother, mother, aunts, and sister, all gathered in the kitchen to make candy
to have around the house but also to give as gifts to family and friends.
For many of us, including myself, I rarely make candy unless it’s the holidays. This
means that many times, I have to try to remember the tricks that my grandmother taught
me. I will share her tips so you can have great candy to give as gifts, or share with
family and friends.
Her most important tip was to make sure the candy thermometer is in good working condition
and accurate. A candy thermometer is inexpensive and used to test the temperature
during cooking. Choose one that has a clip so that it can rest against the sides of
a heavy-gauge saucepan.
Place the bulb in a pan of rapidly boiling water, keeping the bulb off the bottom
of the pan. At eye level, read the temperature while the thermometer is in the water.
It should read 212 degrees F., while the water is boiling.
If the thermometer does not measure boiling temperature correctly, remember to adjust
the candy thermometer during cooking to reflect the difference, or dispose of it and
replace with a new one.
You also need a heavy pan to prevent your candy from burning or scorching. The pan
you choose needs to be the correct size to prevent the candy from boiling over.
If your recipe calls for butter, use salted or unsalted. Margarines or butter spreads
may not always be a good substitute. Sometimes they do not create the correct texture
in the final candy product. Butter gives candy a creamy, rich taste and texture.
My grandmother always chose a dry day (not humid) for making candy. She knew from
experience that weather could be a factor when making candy. If you choose to make
candy on a humid day, you may need to cook your candy a degree or two higher than
stated in the recipe.
It should be wrapped individually in waxed paper or plastic food wrap to ensure longer
storage. Store individually wrapped candies in boxes, tins, or cartons with tight-fitting
Avoid storing candies such as caramels, mints, hard candies, and toffee that absorb
moisture in the same container as candies that lose moisture. That might include candies
such as fudge, fondant, meringues, and divinity. If you do mix these types of candy,
you might end up with hard candies that are sticky.
When storing fudge, use wax paper to individually wrap each piece, or separate the
layers in your storage container with wax paper.
Once the candy has been made, and is being distributed, pay special attention to that
which will be shipped. Wrap different candies in plastic food wrap and divide the
layers with waxed paper. Use crumpled or shredded paper towels or bubble wrap inside
the container for padding. Seal the container with heavy tape and ship. Put the container
into a sturdy cardboard box, and use bubble wrap or newspaper to further protect the
Next, print the mailing and return addresses on the package in waterproof ink; mark
the package “perishable food,” to ensure quick and careful handling. In many cases,
overnight shipping may be the best option.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, soda, buttermilk, and salt. Cook over high
heat for 5 minutes (or 250 degrees on candy thermometer), stirring often, scraping
bottom of pan. Add butter and pecans. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, scraping
bottom and sides of pan until candy reaches soft ball stage (234 degrees) about 5
minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Beat until smooth and creamy. Drop from
tablespoon onto waxed paper and let cool. Makes about 18 two-inch pralines.
By Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 email@example.com