Howdy folks!!  Today’s topic- The science behind sugars/candy making. Yep, that sweet, sticky, chewy, crunchy substance that we all know and love!  Let’s dig in!


Where does sugar come from?

The most common sugars we use generally when we cook comes from Sugar Cane.  Let’s explore the science of how it’s processed:

Juices are extracted from the sugar cane through pressing milling process.




Juices may take on a lighter greenish to beige/brown color upon extraction. 

The sugar cane juices are then cleaned, cooked and thickened into syrup (molasses formation).

The syrup is boiled and sugar crystals are formed within a vacuum and separation (centrifuge) process.

The process could end here for Raw (Turbinado) sugar… But if not…

The crystals are cleaned of the excess molasses to make refined granulated sugar. 

FUN FACT:  Molasses is added BACK into the refined granulated sugar to make…. You guessed it- Brown Sugar!

**Other plant-based sugars/syrups like Beet and Corn uses a process similar to this as well.** 


How to make candy

When it comes to candy making, granulated sugar and syrups are commonly used.  They are cooked to various temperature points (sort of similar to the various cooking temperatures for steaks—Check out our Summer Cookin’ post!) Each temperature point gives the sugar a specific texture (and even flavor) depending on the type of candy being made.

Thread 236◦F (113◦C) Syrups
Soft Ball 240◦F (116◦C) Fudge
Firm Ball 246◦F (119◦C) Chewy Caramel

Hard Ball 260◦F (127◦C) Nougat
Soft Crack 270◦F (132◦C) Salt Water Taffy
Hard Crack 300◦F (149◦C) Toffee
Caramelization 338◦F (170◦C) Liquid Caramel (Hardens when cool)













Try this recipe for making Caramel sauce.  When making any type of candy, we recommend using a candy thermometer.  This will ensure that your sugar doesn’t get too hot or too cool during cook.  It’s also a fun way to track the different stages the sugar takes as it cooks.



Children- make sure you are supervised by an adult when working with the stove and cooking sugar. If you have never operated a stove before, make sure you too are supervised by an adult when working with the stove and cooking sugar.


The impact of Sugar on the Body

Sugar is considered a Simple Carbohydrate – a nutrient that gives the body fuel.  Carbohydrates give our bodies the energy it needs to perform various tasks like exercising, breathing, thinking and even digesting the foods we eat. Glucose is another type of simple carbohydrate.  Glucose is important because it serves as the main form of carbohydrates our bodies utilize for energy and is the only source of energy primarily utilized by the brain.  Understanding the functions of Carbohydrates along with the other essential 5 nutrients (Fats, Proteins, Water, Vitamins and Minerals) are topics we deem extremely important to our mission of increasing Food Literacy at The Cutting Board Academy. We hope you’ve obtained some “sweet” information on the science of sugars and how candies are made.   We’d love to hear from you – Tell us about some of your favorite sweet treats in the comments below.