How to Calibrate a Candy Thermometer

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Candy making requires a close eye on the temperature so you get the results you want. A five-degree shift can mean the difference between fudge and taffy. Not all thermometers will be 100 percent accurate all of the time, but calibrating your equipment indicates how far off your thermometer is so you can correct for the discrepancy. Note that if you are cooking at a higher altitude, that too will factor into the result. At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees F, with the temperature decreasing one degree for every 500 feet above sea level.

Things You'll Need

  • Saucepan
  • Candy thermometer with a clip
  • Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. The water must be at rolling boil to make an accurate reading.

  • Rest the temperature probe in the boiling water, but do not let it touch the bottom of the pot. Many candy thermometers come with clips that attach to the side of the pan, as you do not want your thermometer touching the bottom while making your candy either.

  • Take the water's temperature for 10 minutes. This length of time provides an accurate record.

  • Read the thermometer after 10 minutes. It should read 212 degrees F. If it does not, add or subtract the differences when making your candy. For instance, a reading of 214 degrees F at boiling means you need to subtract two degrees from the number you get when cooking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some cooks write the temperature differential directly onto their thermometers, such as plus or minus two degrees (-2).

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