How & Why To Use Candy Thermometers

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Before a person gets a new candy thermometer, they might not think that they need one. After all, how many of us actually make candy on a regular basis? However, believe me when I tell you that once you buy a candy thermometer, you will find about 1,001 uses for it. These thermometers are some of the most versatile kitchen tools to have in the home, and it’s our firm belief that everyone should have one in their kitchen.

To show our readers just how invaluable having the best candy thermometer can be, we’ve decided to go ahead and write this article. In this article, we’re going to talk about not only the intended uses for a candy thermometer but also all of the other things that can be done with them. We’ll also explore how these thermometers should be used.

What’s A Candy Thermometer?

Before we kick things off, it’s probably a good idea for us to define our terms. One of the things that we’re frequently asked is just what a candy thermometer is, followed by the second most common question we receive: how does a candy thermometer differ from a meat thermometer. So, let’s define what a candy thermometer and what actually makes it different from other types of thermometers.

The first thing we’d like to say about candy thermometers is that they’re longer than meat thermometers. That’s so they can be used in boiling oil or sugar without the cook worrying about burning themselves. Candy thermometers also have a higher temperature range than meat thermometers. That’s because they have to measure significantly higher temperatures. Most meat thermometers only go up to 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit, while most candy thermometers will go up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The last difference between meat thermometers and candy thermometers is that meat thermometers have a pointed end, while most candy thermometers have a rounded end. This is obviously because meat thermometers have to be stuck into the meat, while candy thermometers have to usually be placed into boiling liquids.

How To Read A Candy Thermometer

The next thing that we like to talk about is how the consumer can use the candy thermometer. When consumers read candy making recipes, they will often have to know a few terms that outline how they should use their candy thermometer. Below are some of the stages that consumers should know when they’re using a candy thermometer to make candy.

Thread Stage

The first stage of the candy-making process is the Thread Stage. This stage is approximately 230 to 234 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the stage that is often used for making simple syrups.

Soft Ball Stage

This stage is approximately 234 to 241 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s at this stage that the sugar begins to form a sticky ball. This is the stage where fondants and fudges are started.

Firm Stage

This stage is between 242 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the stage when sugar begins to become flexible yet firm. This is the stage where nougats and caramels are made.

HardBall Stage

This stage is between 250 to 266 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when sugar begins to hold its shape and can be worked into a hardball. This stage is ideal for making marshmallows or gummies—and it can also be used for making rock candy.

Soft-Crack Stage

The soft crack stage is approximately 270 to 289 degrees Fahrenheit and this is the stage where sugar forms flexible yet firm threads. This stage is good for making saltwater taffy and for making butterscotch candies.

Hard Crack Stage

This stage is between 295 to 309 degrees Fahrenheit and is a stage where cooked sugar begins to form brittle threads. It’s good for spinning sugar, and for making brittle candies.

Tips On Using A Candy Thermometer Properly

Now that we’ve covered the differences between meat and candy thermometers, and have gone through some of the candy making stages, now it’s time to turn our attention to keeping the candy thermometer in good condition.

Hand-Wash Your Candy Thermometer

The one thing that you should think about when using a candy thermometer is how you wash it. As a general rule, you want to make sure that you don’t wash it in a dishwasher. Although modern candy thermometers are more durable than ones made in the past, they are still pretty easy to break. That’s why you should always hand wash your thermometer with mild dish soap.

Properly Store Your Candy Thermometer

It’s also extremely important for you to properly store your candy thermometers. This means not just throwing it in a drawer with a bunch of other kitchen accessories. It also means not throwing it in the junk drawer of your desk (and yes, we’ve seen that happen). Candy thermometers should be stored standing straight up and away from other kitchen utensils.

Buy A Spare Candy Thermometer

No matter how well you care for your candy thermometer, however, it’s going to end up breaking at some point. It’s almost inevitable. It might not be tomorrow or even 5-years from now, but at some point, it’s going to happen, and that’s why everyone should keep a spare candy thermometer on hand. This will ensure that you have a candy thermometer available to you when one breaks.

Tips For Reading A Candy Thermometer

When using your candy thermometer, you’re going to want to make sure that you read it properly. Making candy is very precise, so even being off a degree can result in some bad results. That’s why everyone using a candy thermometer should keep the following in mind.

  • Pick A Thermometer That Works Well For You.
  • Make Sure It’s Accurate Before Using It. (Test It Using Boiling Water).
  • Don’t Let The Bulb Touch The Bottom.
  • Read The Temperature At Eye Level.
  • Don’t Take The Thermometer From One Temperature Extreme To Another.

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