Sour candy is the mouth-puckering confection that children usually love. It comes in various sizes and shapes from powdered sugars to hard lollipops and gummy chewy candies. A few ingredients are common to most of these confections. You can make sour candy in your own kitchen with just a few items.
Citric acid is a common part of the sour candy industry as well as the canning market since it prevents fruits from browning. Although you will not need the large amounts sold to commercial industries, the canning section of your local grocer will be likely to carry small portions of it. Citric acid is an acid from organic sources like lemons and other citrus fruits and adds the tart, sharp flavour without simply tasting like lemon. In the absence of citric acid, try lemon juice.
Sugar provides the structure and the sweetness in candy. When you dissolve sugar in liquid, the crystals lose their rigidity with added heat. If the concentration of the sugar in the liquid is high enough, the crystals will cool, usually back into a bunch of small crystals instead of a solid candy, without an interfering agent.
Corn syrup acts differently in solution than sugar and works well as an interfering agent in the candy-making process. Its long chains of glucose get in the way of the sugar molecules forming individual grains of crystal. Instead, the sugar and corn syrup combination holds the solution as a mass, perfect for candy forming.
Gelatin is the ingredient used to make sour gummy candies like jelly beans and gummy worms. It is the centre of the candy usually sweetened with sugar and then coated with the citric acid powder so you get the combination of sweet and sour on your tongue. Candy makers swell the protein molecules with moisture and then heat them so they stay gummy. The right degree of heating is the secret to achieving the perfect texture for specific candies.
Flavouring and Color
Flavourings and colours make the sour candies look and taste specific to a certain recipe. Natural sources of food colouring are beets, orange juice, purple cabbage and other foods high in colour. Flavours tend to be concentrates of substances, sometimes synthetic and sometimes natural. Strong flavoured fruits like concord grapes, lemons, mangoes, oranges and green apples work well for homemade sour candies.
- Medical University of South Carolina: Citric Acid Saturation Mixtures and Solutions; Angie Herron, et al.
- The Accidental Scientist: What is Sugar?
- New York University Wikis: Jelly Beans
- Bucknell University: Food Coloring Agents
- University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service; Common Food Additives in Candy; Aurora Saulo Hodgson; April 2002
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images