I got something today that every kid wants (at least they would if they knew what it was for). I got me a candy thermometer!
Whats it for you say? Well to take the temperature of candy of course. Its used for making all kinds of soft and hard sweet treats.
You can read up on it on wikipedia here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_thermometer
What I need it for is determining the best time at which to take the sap off the heat so it cools to a viscous form recognized as table syrup. For the medium type maple syrup, you wait until the boiling sap reaches a temperature of between 106 and 112 degrees celsius. I’ve likely been taking it off the heat just before that mark. Sap boiled down to 66% sugar apparently boils at 4 degrees above normal water (100 degrees Celsius), so that means at 66%, it should be at 104 degrees celsius. So 104 and and above is gravy… er,… syrup.
A wide range of candies can be made with such a device including but not limited to the following:
My mom used to can stuff, she would make jams, salsa stuff, pickled this and pickled that, picked vegetables, and of course maple syrup in season – as with all of them I guess. I actually don’t recall if she ever used one of these, you can go without it by taste, smell, and just experience. I’ve always just done it by taste and colour for maple syrup. And I usually keep it lighter then recommended, partly because you get a lot more volume out of it by not boiling it down as much and it still tastes VERY sweet.
These are the sorts of things I hope Lindsey and I can pass on to our children through actions, life and such, as opposed to them having to google it at some point in their life. Not the specifics necessarily, but the ambition to go out and try this stuff, learn about it, feel free to make mistakes and figure out their own way to do things.
For me its a mix of what I saw my parents do, how we did things as a family growing up, how I’ve learned on my own to do things and then all supplemented by others experience on the Internet of cookbooks and these are all excellent resources. Just because technology is a big part of our lives (globally), doesn’t mean that we have to forget these granola type things!