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Temperature is an important part of candy making. When a person prepares a batch of candy at home, such as fudge, caramels, or rock candy, he needs to heat a solution of sugar, water, and other ingredients to a certain temperature in order for the candy to reach the right consistency. The easiest way to determine whether or not a candy recipe has reached the proper temperature is to use a digital candy thermometer. A digital candy thermometer usually features a long metal probe that the cook inserts into the cooking candy. Many thermometers can read temperatures up to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Usually, a digital candy thermometer comes with a metal clip so that the cook can attach it to the side of the saucepan. Clipping the thermometer to the saucepan prevents it from falling into the candy. Ideally, the probe on the digital candy thermometer will be long enough to reach into the candy while it is clipped to the saucepan but not so long that it touches the bottom of the pan. The probes on many thermometers generally measure between 7 and 12 inches.
The temperature is displayed on a LCD screen. Some thermometers display only the current temperature, while others also function as timers and clocks and have space to display the current time or a count-down time. A cook can program most digital candy thermometers so that an alarm goes off when the candy reaches the proper temperature. Many thermometers allow cooks to program several alarms at once and to pick and choose which alarm to use at a given time. In case the cook forgets what temperature he set the thermometer to, some will display the programmed temperature on the screen as well as the current temperature.
Some digital candy thermometers can also measure the temperature for other foods. Occasionally, a candy thermometer can double as a deep frying thermometer or as an instant read thermometer to use when baking bread. A cook may also be able to use the thermometer to determine if meat has reached the proper internal temperature.
A person needs to exercise care when using a digital candy thermometer. He should wash the probe by hand only, wiping it with a wet, soapy dishrag or sponge. The thermometer may be destroyed if he submerges the LCD display into water or washes the probe in the dishwasher. After using the thermometer, a cook should remove it from the candy using pot holders. The probe will be very hot after use and a person should avoid touching it directly or washing it until it has cooled down.
I really like having a digital thermometer that I can use for many different things. I use mine for candy, meat, and even for making sure my water is the correct temperature to dissolve yeast when making bread.
I used to have separate thermometers for different tasks, but when I purchased a digital meat thermometer and realized who easy and convenient they were to use, I have switched to all digital thermometers.
I still have my other ones, just in case, but will always go with the digital as my first choice.
If you are going to be a good candy maker, you need a reliable candy thermometer. For years I used a candy thermometer that clipped to the side of the pan. I was at a Pampered Chef party and purchased a digital cooking thermometer that I could use for candy, along with many other things.
I have had pretty much the same results from using either kind of thermometer. The digital one is easy to use and will beep when you have reached the desired temperature. When I am making candy, I am usually standing there stirring and watching the whole time, anyway, so keeping an eye on the thermometer is not hard to do.