This Illustrated Guide Will Come in Handy When Making Candy

When it comes to making candy, there are a few stages to the process that you just can’t skip. If you haven’t memorized the different stages of how to make candy, here’s a handy guide to clip to your fridge or keep close at hand the next time you’d like to try your hand at making homemade confections.

Candy Making Stages Title

How it works

As you heat the sugar syrup for your candy, the concentration increases. The highest temperature the syrup reaches and its concentration effect the final texture of your candy.

Usually, you can use the temperature of the syrup to determine how the candy will set. But temperatures can vary slightly, so there’s another way to test what stage your candy is in as it cooks: The cold water test.

With the cold water test, you’ll drop a teaspoon or so of the syrup into a small bowl of cold water. This speeds up the setting process, so after a few seconds, you can see what the texture will be like when the candy cools.

Use the guide below (both in written and infographic form) as a reference while making your candy!

Candy making stages guide

How to Make Candy: Candy Making Stages

Click to enlarge

A recap of candy-making stages

Thread stage

When dropped in water, the sugar forms a fine, thin thread; more like syrup than candy.

Temperature range: 230-235 F (106-112 C) 

Soft ball stage

Sugar forms a delicate, soft ball shape that collapses when handled.

Temperature range: 235-240 F (112-116 C) 

Firm ball stage

Sugar forms a ball that holds its shape, but is very soft and sticky.

Temperature range: 245-250 F (118-120 C) 

Hard ball stage:

Sugar forms a ball that holds its shape, but remains pliable and soft.

Temperature range: 250-265 F (121-130 C) 

Soft crack stage

Sugar can be stretched and separated into firm, but not brittle, threads.

Temperature range: 270-290 F (132-143 C) 

Hard crack stage

Sugar will solidify yet still separate into individual, brittle threads.

Temperature range: 300-310 F (149-154 C) 

Caramel stage:

Sugar will harden into a light or deep golden hue with a hard texture.

Temperature range: 320-350 F (160-177 C) 

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