Rain & Candy Making


I really want to make some toffee, pralines, etc. but we have four day of rain forecast. My question was for Mike and others who make candy a lot. Would you dare make candy when the rain is imminent sometime today but it's still just cloudy and chill?

While I thought to ask this, it has started sprinkling but I still want to know . . .

badge posted by: frick on December 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm in Baking, desserts and sweets
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reply by: Mike Nolan on December 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm
Mike Nolan

I generally do most of my candy-making when it is cold enough outside that rain is usually not the type of precipitation we get.

There are probably two factors to take into account.

One is how weather-related high humidity affects the cooking of the candy, the other is how it affects the candy as it cools and after that.

Back in the days when all we had available were analog candy thermometers, we were always told to calibrate the thermometer first using boiling water. That way if it was off a degree or two, you just added or subtracted the difference from the target temperature.

I believe that calibration was intended primarily to correct the analog thermometer for barometric pressure. On a low pressure day (like when there is rain imminent), water boils at a slightly lower temperature. This is similar to the adjustments cooks have to make at high altitude.

I have never found a definitive answer as to whether that process is still needed when making candy using a digital thermometer. Every time I've tried it, the digital thermometer was pretty close to 212, usually within a half degree.

As for cooling and storage, sugar is hygroscopic, which means it will absorb moisture from the air. Harder candies like peanut brittle will get sticky on the surface if left in a humid environment.

I've been told that storing hard candies with some popped popcorn helps keep the candies firm, but I haven't tried it.

reply by: vibeguy on December 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

For what it's worth, the Almond Roca factory is in a notoriously rainy city, so at least for toffee, it's apparently not a big deal. In my experience, candies where the crystals are densely packed (hard candy, fudge, caramels) aren't super weather-sensitive at the cool end of the temperature spectrum; heck, they make pralines in Savannah and New Orleans. It's candies with entrained air where I get dampness failures - taffy (yet, it's made by the seashore!??!) and most annoying, divinity, which is my favorite Christmas candy.

My late great aunt made FANTASTIC divinity in a rainforest. I cannot get it to come out for love nor money unless I do it just after a snowstorm.

reply by: omaria on December 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I am in the same rain zone Frick, and I was just looking at the marshmallow and chocolate candies. Will I have trouble with that? I am new to candy making and the weather never entered my mind.Thanks for any advice. Ria

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm
Mike Nolan

Pralines are supposed to be sticky.

I spent part of a summer in Pass Christian MS years ago, the pralines down there were fantastic!

Soft candies should fare better in humid weather than harder ones.

Almond Roca (one of my favorite candies) is enrobed in chocolate, so that changes how it reacts to the air.

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm
Mike Nolan

IMHO it takes a LOT of humidity before it starts affecting the finished products.

Whether it could affect the cooking process is harder to say, but I'd say go ahead and report back on how it went.

reply by: omaria on December 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Mike, My husband is going to Frye"s tomorrow (Favorite Computer store) so I will be making marshmallows and use them in the choc. candies. I will let you know how it turns out. Ria

reply by: vibeguy on December 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Naked Almond Roca boo-boos = ineffably delicious.

Strangely, it's not a continuous process. They spend quite some time (days, not hours) in the naked state.

reply by: bocca on December 18, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Frick, we are having rain and I am making caramels. If we get colder weather my caramels turn out fine but this rain makes them sticky. I cook to hard ball, last year they ended up so soft I wasn't going to make them again. I did a test batch yesterday with low humidity and today is rain over 80% humidity. The caramels cut and are firm enough but if they touch each other they melt back together.
The best year was cold, I vote for cold.

reply by: Mike Nolan on December 19, 2010 at 1:03 am
Mike Nolan

How did you determine when the caramel was at 'hard ball'?

Professional confectioners have to make candy every day, regardless of the weather, so there should be ways to deal with it for home cooks as well.

reply by: bocca on December 19, 2010 at 4:02 am

Ice cold water test. If I follow that they turn out more often than not unless it's warm and or rain. We are having precip this week but it's colder and that's working in my favor. My fingers are crossed as we had heavier rains last week. Snow/rain this week.