How to Cook to the Soft Ball Stage

Written by debbie tolle
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How to Cook to the Soft Ball Stage
Learning how to cook to the soft ball stage. (jelly making image by hazel proudlove from

Cooking to a softball stage is a term often used to describe how a drop of sugar syrup will react when it comes in contact with cold water. This stage of cooking is one of several stages used in the making of candy. Sugar syrup is used as the basic ingredient of several types of candy, and must be cooked to a specific temperature to achieve the desired results. To form a softball, the sugar syrup must be cooked to a specific temperature that can deviate no more than -14.4 degrees C.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • 3 quart sauce pan
  • Butter
  • Wooden spoon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Candy thermometer
  • Bowl of cold water

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  1. 1

    Mix 2 parts sugar to 1 part water and add it to the saucepan, or the amount that is specifically called for in your recipe. Your recipe may also call for milk and sugar instead of water and sugar. Typically, it is 2 cups of sugar added to 1 cup of water to make sugar syrup. Grease the sides and bottom of your saucepan with butter to help keep sugar from forming crystals on the side of the pan. Crystallised sugar that is scraped back into the pan will cause your mixture to become gritty instead of smooth.

    How to Cook to the Soft Ball Stage
    Creamy Fudge (almond fudge image by Stephen Orsillo from
  2. 2

    Place the saucepan on your stove and set the burner to a medium heat. Cooking at a temperature too low will not allow the mixture to boil, and cooking at a temperature that is too high will cause your mixture to burn. Stir the mixture continuously with a wooden spoon until it begins to boil.

  3. 3

    Insert the thermometer into the mixture after it begins to boil. Do not allow the tip of the thermometer to rest on the bottom of the pan because it can cause a false reading. Dip at least 1 tsp of the mixture out of the pan as soon as the thermometer reaches 112 degrees Celsius. Drip the mixture into the bowl of cold water and allow it to set for at least 15 seconds. Reach into the bowl and lift the mixture out. The mixture will form a ball that will flatten when you take it out of the bowl and set it on the table. This is the soft ball stage.

  4. 4

    Allow the mixture to boil a few minutes longer if it does not form a soft ball, but not past 116 degrees Celsius. Boiling the mixture past this temperature will bring it to the firm ball stage. When you are certain that you have reached the soft ball stage, add the other ingredients for your candy into the sugar syrup and enjoy your sweet creation.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice using sugar and water, which is used in many candies. Mix 2 cups sugar with one cup water and bring it to a boil. Follow each step until you can achieve the soft ball stage.

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