What is Christmas without treats?  Does it seem like Christmas without them?  All those delicious candies are a delightful fit for the holidays.  

Candy making is more of an art, but there is some science to it.  You must balance creativity with skill and incorporate some technical procedures that sometimes need help comprehending. 

Wait, here’s where we can help.  

The trick to candy perfection is knowledge, so what do you need to know this holiday season to keep your sweets just as delightful as the occasion?  Easy, you need to know a little about the basics of making candy, starting with that basic candy building block, sugar.  Well, what’s so special about sugar, you ask?  Sugar has unique properties that make it the perfect choice for candy recipes.  

Now, what unique properties, you ask?  Sugar crystals are solid at room temperature, but once you put these sugar crystals in water, they dissolve, this is step one in candy-making, and this forms a clear solution.  Apply heat and hold at “just right” temperatures, and then this sweet elixir is allowed to boil at precise temperatures.  In doing so, chemical changes or reactions occur in the sugar because heat breaks the crystals apart into molecules, and later the molecules will get back together, forming sugar crystals again as the sugar syrup cools.  This basis of candy makes the backbone of all sweets.  

You need to understand the care required for the candy before you can ensure that they’re served in the optimal state, you want to give your sweets the proper care and storage they need.   Here’s what you’ll need to know: 

Although there are many different varieties, as many as the imagination will allow, there are only three main types of candy.   They can usually be classified as one of the following or a combination of the following:

First, we have the hard candy.  Hard candy is made with the highest sugar content.  Characteristically, they include various flavors and colors.  Some classic hard candies include peppermint sticks and multiple mints, does anyone remember rock candy? Hard candy should be stored at temperatures ranging from 10-21°C for best results and relative humidity of 40%.

Second are the softer candies.  In this category, we have marshmallows, jellies, nougats etc.  These sweets contain mostly sugar and a low percentage of other ingredients that do not solidify, like pure sugar.  For optimum results, these soft candies should be stored at temperatures ranging from 24-27°C, with a relative humidity of 45-40%.

Third, we look at candies that contain a majority of other ingredients rather than heavily concentrated sugars.  This group will find fudge, chocolates, sugar- or chocolate-covered raisins or nuts, my favorite caramels, and much more.

In terms of storage, this group is the trickiest.  Caramels are optimum at temperatures ranging from 21-27°C, while chocolates are best at the temperature range of 16-18°C, with a 50% relative humidity.  It’s worth paying attention to get the most from this exquisite delicacy called candy.   

The amount of moisture that candy gains will affect the storage and shelf life of most candies if they last that long 😉  

Storing Your Candies

Careful storage will enable your magical Christmas candies to be the best nature intended them to be, remaining firm but not hard, soft but not sticky. You can always appreciate the taste of good quality candy regardless of age.