Hungry for more? Check out the new Exploratorium website about the Science of Food.
I use honey to prevent my candies from crstallizing?"
like to know if honey is an ingredient that can be used
to decrystallize candies cooked with sugar and milk.
When I make pralines, which call for sugar, butter,
milk, pecans, and flavorings, after about two weeks
the pralines turn whitebasically into sugar. How
can this be prevented?
It's got to be holiday season, as questions on candy are
appearing more often! Pralines are a much-appreciated
festive treat, but come to think of it, they're simply
delicious at any time of the year.
your pralines turn white, you are seeing the recrystallization
of sugar. And you are right that honey does technically
slow down the rate at which crystals form in candy.
However, it is not commonly used because of its high
fructose content. Of all the various sugar components,
fructose is the one that most easily absorbs moisture
from the air during cooking and during storage. So candies
that contain honey often end up being on the sticky
side, which isn't desirable.
Consider trying corn syrup instead because it does such
a fine job of stopping the formation of crystals. It's
a popular, inexpensive, and very effective interfering
substance and it doesn't become sticky as candy
is stored over a period of time. Because corn syrup
is slightly less sweet than sugar, it also tends to
reduce the sweetness of the finished candy. Instead
of 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of granulated sugar,
try 1 cup of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar,
and 1/3 cup of corn syrup. You will also likely have
to cook the praline syrup to a slightly higher temperature
(238° F - 240°F/114° C - 115° C) because
of the presence of the corn syrup. Using a candy thermometer
makes reaching the exact desired temperature an easy
Because one of the characteristics
of sugar is its ability to attract moisture, make
sure to store your pralines in an airtight container
and never in the refrigerator.
Good luck with the candy-making and Happy Holidays!
Anne and Sue