Different Stages of Heating Sugar

Written by sue stepp
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Different Stages of Heating Sugar
Heat sugar to different stages for making candy, syrup, sauces and other foods. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Sugar is the simplest carbohydrate. Sugar comes from different types of plants, but sugar cane is the most common source of table sugar. People use it for making candy, cakes, pies, jellies and syrup. Sugar goes through four noticeable stages when heated, and each stage makes different types of foods.

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Thread Stage

Heat a cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Stir occasionally. When the sugar reaches 106 degrees Celsius it reaches the thread stage. The sugar forms a loosely structured thin thread when dripped into a cup of cold water. At this stage, it forms simple syrup. Sugar at this stage mixes well into drinks, like lemonade. If you add vanilla to the heated sugar, it makes a syrup for pancakes. When dry sugar heats to this stage, it forms spun candyfloss.

Ball Stage

Cook a cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Stir the mixture occasionally. When the sugar reaches 112 degrees Celsius, it reaches the soft ball stage. When dripped into cold water at this stage, the sugar forms a squishy ball shape. If you continue heating sugar to 117 degrees Celsius, it reaches the firm ball stage. When dripped into cold water at this stage, the sugar forms a mouldable ball shape. If you continue heating sugar to 121 degrees C it reaches the hard ball stage. Cook sugar to this stage to make caramels and nougats.

Crack Stage

Place 1 cup of sugar into a pot with 1/4 cup of water, and heat. Stir the mixture occasionally. When the sugar reaches 132 degrees Celsius, it reaches the soft crack stage. When dripped into cold water at this stage, the sugar creates a firm brittle strings or globs. If you continue heating the sugar to 146 degrees Celsius, it reaches the hard crack stage. When cooled in cold water at this stage, the sugar forms a hard, solid glob. Cook sugar to this stage to make hard candy or peanut brittle.

Caramel Stage

Mix a cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water and cook. Stir the mixture occasionally. When the sugar reaches 160 degrees Celsius, it reaches the caramel stage. When cooled in cold water at this stage, the sugar is very firm, but pliable. Cook sugar to this stage for making chewy caramel, pralines or peanut brittle. If you are heating sugar for making candies don't over cook the sugar. It burns easily, making the sugar taste bitter.

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