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The Temperature Stages of Sugar for Candy Making

 

 

Temperature

Sugar Stage

Candy

223°F - 234°FThread:  The sugar drips from a spoon and stretches into thin threads in cold water.Used for sugar syrups
235°F - 240°FSoft ball:  The sugar forms into a ball in cold water but loses its shape when removed.Fudge, fondant, butter creams, caramels
245°F - 250°FFirm ball:  The sugar forms into a ball in cold water and remains a ball when removed, but loses its shape when compressed.Caramels, marshmallows, toffees
250°F - 264°FHard ball:  The sugar forms into a ball in cold water and remains a ball when removed.  Keeps its shape when compressed, but feels sticky.Caramels, nougats, divinity
270°F - 290°FSoft Crack:  The sugar forms into long threads in cold water.  The threads are stretchy and slightly sticky when removed.Taffy, nougat
298°F - 310°F Hard Crack:  The sugar forms into long threads in cold water.  The threads are brittle and easily snap when removed.Hard candy, brittles, toffees, glazed fruit 
320°F and aboveCaramel:  The sugar turns golden yellow to dark amber.  Nearly all water has been boiled out of the syrup.  If sugar continues to cook, it will burn and turn blackPralines and brittles

 

These temperatures are appropriate for determining the sugar stage for a cold water test at sea level.
Note:  Some recipes may call for candy to be cooked to a different stage depending on the desired taste and texture of the final product.