Here are some tips for making candy at high altitude:
- Choose the right cooking pan. The pan should be large enough to let the candy mixture boil without running over. It should be heavy and made of a material that conducts heat evenly (aluminum,copper, stainless steal with aluminum core). This will help prevent scorching. I don’t recommend using a non-stick pan, the high heat can damage the surface of the pan.
- Use a candy thermometer. This is important because slight variances in temperature can determine the success of your candy. An inexpensive candy thermometer will work just fine but you may want to invest in a higher quality one if you will be using it often. Look for a candy thermometer that measures a range from 100 degrees to 400 degrees; most have graduations of 5 degrees. Better quality candy thermometers have graduations of 2 degrees, which allow you to measure your batch’s temperature more accurately.
- Test your candy thermometer for accuracy. Because candy making is so temperature dependent, a mis-reading of even 5 degrees can mean a failed batch of candy. To calibrate your candy thermometer, follow these steps.
- Watch candy carefully. Keep a close eye on the mixture during the last few moments of cooking, as the temperature rises quickly once it reaches 199 º F.
- If there is excess moisture in the air, cook candies to a slightly firmer stage- a degree or so above what is written in the recipe.
- Adjust cooking temperature for altitude. Just as water boils at a temperature below 212° F at higher altitudes, all other liquids boil at lower temperatures. When sugar mixtures are cooked at sea level recipe temperatures, faster loss of water causes the mixture to become too concentrated. To adjust candy recipes for high altitude, reduce the cooking temperature. The chart below lists cooking temperatures for various types of candy.
|STAGE||CANDY TYPE||DEGREES FAHRENHEIT|
|Sea Level||2,000 ft||5,000 ft||7500 ft|
|Soft Ball||Fudge, fondant||234-240||230-236||224-230||219-225|
|Firm Ball||Chewy caramel||242-248||238-244||232-238||227-233|
|Hard Ball||Nougat, marshmallow||250-268||246-264||240-248||235-253|
|Soft Crack||Taffy, butterscotch||270-290||266-286||260-280||255-275|
|Hard Crack||Toffee, brittle, lollipops||300-310||296-306||290-300||285-295|
- A helpful hint for adjusting your candy cooking temperature is to lower it by 2 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level. So, if you live 5,000 feet above sea level, you would lower your cooking temperature by 10 degrees.