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Old August 18th, 2016, 10:04 PM
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Default heat/humidity candy experiment

So as many of you know I tend to make my fair share of candy through out the year. What started 10 years ago as 100's of pounds has become 100's of gallons into this confection. With this also has come the responsibility of having to make candy in less than ideal conditions.
This summer has been especially brutal with high humidity, and high temps. Now I will admit I'm spoiled in the factor that I can control heat and humidity in my processing area, but being a curious person I wanted to find out what it takes to create acceptable maple candy under varying conditions that others may see.
The Questions: What effects candy more...heat or humidity? Can a person boil out of varying conditions of heat and humidity? How much do you have to raise your temperature to over come varying conditions.
The Method: I use the set-up/remelt method which has become the method we are best known for when making candy. Unlike the fondant method we are stirring till the point of set-up, and then remelting, and pouring into molds. You may have read about this in a recent Maple News, but not realizing this is a method we use because of our name being left out of the research. I also did do the direct pour method to see if there were differences between the 2 methods, but I found very little difference between the 2.
For these tests I boiled 1 quart(along side my typical batches of syrup for candy) of blended Golden and Amber syrup with a glucose meter reading of 42, or .82% invert sugar. Then this trial batch was placed into a separate pan to be slightly cooled to an undisclosed temperature (sorry can't give away all my secrets) Each day I tested the boiling point of water, and raise my temperature to my set number of degrees above this point. I also used the marcland barometer to see if the continued boiling of syrup through different batches would change the barometric pressure within my little micro climate kitchen.
The Participates: Now since my ultimate goal is to make an acceptable, and shippable maple candy in all conditions, and to possible tailor each batch to specific regions of the country; with each pound sold I sent out a questionaire, and sample of our experimental candy to all our online buyers. we also left samples of each batch to test for crush strength, texture, and appearance. To determine crush strength I used just a simple digital scale and place 1 piece of candy on it, and pressed down until the candy malformed or fractured. At which I recorded the amount of force it took to crush that particular sample. (I know it's not very professional, but it's all I had.) I have through previous experience figured out that a crush strength of about 15lbs using the above method produces a very shippable candy.
Results:
Over a 6 week period we sent out 178 questionaires of which I received 42 back in response. Less than half, but enough to use to compare to my findings. To try to keep some control in questionaire, and not just go off personal views we asked 2 simple questions to the individuals and used the pound of candy they purchased as the bench mark. The questions were 1. texture of candy, and 2. The firmness of the candy. Both compared to the candy they received in their order.

So the first thing I have discovered is that heat will effect candy to a degree, but it is the humidity that truly plays the deciding factor in if the candy will melt into a blob, or dry out and start to spot. This was interesting enough the easiest to figure out. To verify what I had thought for sometime I took 3 identical batches of candy that had been out of the mold for 24 hrs. The first batch I placed in our oven on low heat with the door slightly cracked for 6 hrs at 120*. the candy was placed on a high temp silicone mold to make sure that no extra heat transfer would occur from the metal pan to the candy. The second batch of candy was placed in a non air conditioned room with a humidifier placed in it bringing the relative humidity up to 78% with a temp of 80 degrees. Again the candy was placed on a silicone mold to make sure no metal to candy transferred occur over the 6 hr period. What I discovered on this test was after time had expired to my surprise the oven batch even though warm and little soft maintained a crush strength of 10.3 lbs, where as the high humidity candy had a crush strength of only 3.1 lbs. My 3rd batch which was control was left in my normal drying room at 72* with a humidity percentage of 56%. This candy maintained a 15.7 lb crush strength.
I repeated this experiment a total of 4 times with varying temps (propane and electric cost money) playing around with different boiling temps for the oven and humidity batches, but always using the same tried and tested formula for my control batch. The idea here was to be able to produce an end result candy with a crush strength of 15 lbs.
Once I created my end result candy of 15lbs crush strength at 78-80* with humidity at 80% I left out the oven test and just began concentrating on varying temps and different humidity levels within my room.
So here are my conclusions of these tests and feedback from what questionaires that were returned.
Before I start with this I must add that I have also found out that depending on the size of batch of candy you are making and cooling, you must adjust boiling temps because of different size batches evaporate at different rates. (i figured this out accidentally) So for this my boiling point was determined by a quart size batch when cooling began. Also if you vacuum cool, like we have been doing since sept. 2015 you can lower your boiling temp because under vacuum your syrup will continue to boil for some time because the boiling point of liquid is lower until a vacuumized system.
test 1
Control batch: 29* degrees above boiling point(ABP), cooled, stirred, and let sit in 56% relative humidity room(rhr) created a candy at 15.7 lbs crush.
1. 29*ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 80%RHR created candy at 3.1lb
2. 30*ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 80%RHR created candy at 6.9lb
3. 31* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 80% RHR created candy at 10.2lb
4. 32* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 80%RHR created candy at 13.2 lb
5. 33* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit 80% RHR created candy at 16lb
so at 80%RHR i had to raise 4 degrees to reach my desired crush level.

test 2 @ 70% RHR
control batch 29*ABP cooled, stirred, and let sit in 57%RHR created candy @ 15.6lb crush

1. 29*ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 70%RHR created candy at 5.9lb
2. 30*ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 70%RHR created candy at 10.7 lb
3. 31* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 70% RHR created candy at 15.4lb
4. 32* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit in 70%RHR created candy at 20.3lb
5. 33* ABP, cooled, stirred and let sit 70% RHR created candy at 25.0lb
now I do need to do more tests, but preliminary findings are showing that for every 10% in humidity you must raise the boiling point 2*. I'm also working on if the humidity is lower, at what temps you can lower your boiling point to maintain a consistent candy.
I'm also working on how much a person may have to raise boiling points depending on size of batch to be boiled and cooled. I'm hoping in upcoming tests I can keep replicating these results, and wanted to share these with other members to maybe try it out for themselves, or maybe to just make their lives a little easier in these difficult summer months. Thanks folks!!
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The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Moser's Maple For This Helpful Post:
3rdgen.maple (August 19th, 2016), Bob B (August 19th, 2016), DrTimPerkins (August 22nd, 2016), ed r (August 18th, 2016), Meaford Maples (August 27th, 2016), regor0 (August 19th, 2016), RHale (August 30th, 2016), sugarbush ridge (August 19th, 2016), Thompson's Tree Farm (August 19th, 2016)
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Old August 19th, 2016, 01:10 AM
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All this talk about candy testing makes me want some of your candy. Headed to Ebay.
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Old August 19th, 2016, 07:29 AM
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I love it when anyone posts any "grassroots research" like this. When I have this problem, I tried this, this, and this and this is what I came up with. It helps all producers out and I bet it gives researchers ideas as well. Thanks Jake. I know now why my grandma told me to never make confections when its raining out, especially if they are to be sold.
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Old August 19th, 2016, 10:04 PM
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Several years ago at Lappierre's spring open house it was very humid/rainy. I seem to remember guy doing candy demonstration said he had gone 10 degrees high to make candy he could take out of molds.
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Old August 20th, 2016, 12:59 PM
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Not maple related but.......
I make 20lb suckers to hang in the tree for bear bait. Last night I made one, it was raining, normally I pour into the mold at 300. I took it to 305 and thought that would be enough, but this morning when I took it out of the mold it was to soft. Should have went hotter. On the plus side the bears won't complain.

Last edited by regor0; August 20th, 2016 at 01:50 PM.
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Old August 22nd, 2016, 11:56 PM
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My candy was in the mailbox today. 85 degrees out and probably hotter, forgot it in the car. Just tried a piece, smooth as silk, and firm just like it should be. Thanks Jake, you make fantastic candy.
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Old August 23rd, 2016, 10:22 PM
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Jake, I would like to personally thank you for all your time and work putting together such a chart of information. I'm printing it out to put in my NAMSP manuel.
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