Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Subtleties&Stuffe Sugar Boiling

Sugar Boiling

This is the first of several planned posts on the topic of sugar boiling. The science of boiling sugar until it reaches a certain stage is described in a number of early books and manuscripts. As one might suspect, the terms vary widely.

One of my favorite sources on modern sugar and sugar boiling remains:

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking. [2nd ed. NY: Scribner, 2004.] See his chapter "Sugars, Chocolate, and Confectionery" beginning on page 645. McGee covers "The History of Sugars and Confectionery," ""The Nature of Sugars," "Sugars and Syrups,""Sugar Candies and Confectionery,"and "Chocolate." His chart on sugar boiling and candy stages appears on page 682.

See also McGee's website The Curious Cook at  One of his posts on sugar appears at:

An up to date scientific discussion of the process can be found online at:

"Science of Cooking: Candy-making Stages | Exploratorium." Exploratorium: The Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Exploratorium, ©2014. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Also see:

"Sugar In Candy Making." Sugar’s Functional Roles in Cooking & Food Preparation (n.d.) Sugar A Handbook. The Sugar Association, date not given. Web.

One inexpensive source which reveals a number of descriptions of sugar boiling and candy stages along with suggested temperatures can be found in

Elise Fleming's Confections and the English Banquet. [The Compleat Anachronist, Issue #163; First Quarter 2014***).  Appendix F of this volume is titled "Sugar Stages and Temperatures." Sources include food historian Ivan Day, Larousse Gastronomique, Karen Hess, and The Joy of Cooking. The only drawback is that the material is crammed into just three and one third pages.

*** Available from

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