Tips on Making Homemade Candy - The Southern Lady Cooks

Tips on Making Homemade Candy

Do you like making homemade candy gifts at home for your friends and family or just enjoy homemade better than store bought anytime?  Here are a few handy tips on making candy you might find useful.  If you are an accomplished candy maker, pass this on to a friend or family member that could use the information.

Homemade candy making can be simple with just a few tips on how to get started and the process in general.  First of all, read your entire recipe and assemble all your ingredients and equipment. This is important because candy making requires constant attention and you may not have time during the cooking process.

Make sure you are using pure cane sugar and not something with an additive.

Invest in a good candy thermometer.  If you already have a candy thermometer you can test it for accuracy by bringing a pan of water to a boil and checking the reading on your thermometer. It should read 212 degrees F.  If your thermometer is off remember how many degrees it was off when testing your recipe.  Attach your thermometer to the side of the pan and do not let the bulb touch the bottom or sides for an accurate reading.

If you do not have a candy thermometer you can test candy by using the cold water method.  This method requires dropping about a half teaspoon of liquid from your cooking pot into a bowl of cold water (not ice water) to see if it makes a soft ball or hard ball. Some recipes will say cook to soft ball stage, hard ball stage or until syrup forms a thin thread, etc.  The following is a list of the different stages, what each stage means and the temperature for each stage.

  • Thread Stage – 230 -235 F – Syrup forms a thin thread
  • Soft Ball Stage- 235 – 240 F – Syrup forms a soft ball in cold water
  • Firm Ball Stage – 245 – 250 F  Syrup forms a ball that holds its shape but is still sticky
  • Hard Ball Stage – 250 – 265 F Syrup holds shape
  • Soft Crack Stage – 270 – 290 F Can be stretched between your fingers and separates into hard threads
  • Hard Crack Stage – 300 to 310 F Syrup will solidify but will separate into hard brittle threads
  • Caramel Stage – 320 – 335 F Syrup will become a light golden color when you drop it onto a plate


Tips on Making Homemade Candy - The Southern Lady Cooks

Use a wooden spoon when making candy because it won’t get hot during the cooking process

Clear, cool days are best for making candy. Rain and humidity can prevent candy from setting up.

Unsalted butter is better than margarine to use in candy making.

Doubling homemade candy recipes can cause failure, especially fudge recipes.

Store candy in an airtight container in a dry, cool place.  Do not store different types of candy in the same container. This will cause the flavors to combine. Do not store hard candy and soft candy together.  Moisture from the soft candy will cause your hard candy to soften and get sticky.  Most candy will keep in an airtight container up to 3 weeks and will freeze for up to 1 year.

Tips on Making Homemade Candy - The Southern Lady Cooks

When making fudge, stir continuously over medium high heat until reaches boiling stage.  Once boiling do not stir until reaches done time. Remove fudge from heat and let cool to 110 degrees before beating to prevent candy from becoming grainy.  Score fudge while still warm with a sharp knife to make it easier to cut once cooled.

Easy recipe for dipping chocolate:

1 tablespoon shortening (not butter)

8 ounces solid chocolate

Melt together either on stove or in microwave. Use for dipping.

Candy pictured above:

Don’t Forget to Pin Tips on Homemade Candy!

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  1. Cheryl Huffman says:

    can you freeze divinity ?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I have never tried freezing it, Cheryl.

  2. I let my husband learn to make candy. He became very good at it, Now I have it all done all most professional like. He’s good

    1. Do love getting new recipes that are tried and true. Truffles and chocolate covered BonBons type especially. Dark and white chocolate too.

  3. Joan Waltemyer says:

    I enjoy making fudge and always use a candy thermometer. My old one broke about a year ago and I have bought several new ones, but don’t like any as much as I did my old one. Do you have a favorite candy thermometer that you would recommend?

      1. Joan Waltemyer says:

        Thanks, this is the most recent style I bought. Used it this week but I guess I need to just get accustomed to something new.