Adjusting Your Candy Thermometer for Your Altitude

>> Monday, January 12, 2015

When you make candy you can use a thermometer to determine how much water has boiled out of the candy. This is the factor that decides the texture of the finished product. The trouble is that water boils at different temperatures at different altitudes, so you have to adjust your recipe for your altitude. This is how that works:

Take your candy thermometer and clip it to the side of a saucepan, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the thermometer. Place the pan over high heat and wait for the water to boil. Let it boil for a few minutes, then take a reading on your thermometer. We'll use mine for an example. Water boils at 203 degrees here. Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. (Recipes are written for sea level to keep them consistent.) If I subtract my temperature from the sea level one, that is a 9 degree difference. So I adjust my recipe by 9 degrees. For instance, the candy recipe says heat to 244 degrees, then I need to subtract 9 degrees from that and I will be cooking my candy to 235 degrees to get the same result.

One more word of caution. If you are using a digital thermometer, it may tell you that soft ball stage is 230 degrees, while your recipe claims soft ball stage at 234 degrees. In this instance, it is important to believe your thermometer, because it is telling you how it is calibrated. In my case, I would need to subtract 9 degrees from what my thermometer says, meaning that soft ball stage for my altitude AND my thermometer is 230-9=221 degrees.

Hope this helps your candy to be perfect every time!

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