We've had fun trying our hands at some homemade candy recipes lately and are excited to share them with you! Homemade Rock Candy is incredibly easy to make. There are many variations and links online to help you along the way. We took bits and pieces of what we found and here is how we did it!
You will need:
Sugar (lots of sugar)
Jars or Glass Cups
Trim down your skewers to a reasonable size to fit in whatever jars or cups that you will be using. You'll also want to get rid of the point. Dip them in water, then roll in sugar. Let dry completely and set aside. This gives the sugar a base. Something to stick to when it starts to crystallize.
Mix equal parts of water and sugar in a pot on med-high heat until dissolved. Then continue to add sugar until you have AT LEAST a 2:1 ratio. You can also do a 3:1 ratio. It will get to a point where it won't dissolve anymore. We used 8 cups of water and 16-18 cups of sugar and it made a lot. So you can definitely half the recipe. We wanted a lot of colors. You are making a nice, sticky, sugary syrup. Mix until mixture starts to simmer. You do not need it to a rolling boil or bring it to a certain temperature with a candy thermometer. Easy.
Allow your syrup to cool for 10 minutes or so and ladle into your jars using a funnel to catch spills. It is still pretty hot at this point. We used the tips that we trimmed off of our skewers and dipped them into concentrated food coloring paste, then swirled the skewer into our hot syrup mixture. You can use liquid food coloring, but I like the paste better.
Then attach a clothespin to each skewer (the ones you dipped in sugar and let dry) and place in cup. Make sure the skewer isn't touching the bottom or sides of jar/glass. They need room to grow. Since our glasses were narrow, one skewer seemed to work out best, but we added two in a few of the colors.
Place your jars in a warm location with lots of natural light. Here they are on day one...you can see that there is a bit of sugar build up from when we dipped them in water and then let them dry in sugar as well as on the bottom of the glass.
Day 3. More crystallization.
Day 5. The syrup is crystallizing on the bottom of the glasses as well.
7 days---DONE! We had a great time watching them grow and sampling the finished product. We did not add any flavorings to ours, just sugar and water, but it might be fun to try that sometime.
In the end, the glasses with 1 skewer did better as they had more room to grow.
If you attempt to do more than one skewer/jar, use a wide mouth jar. The orange glass had two skewers and both turned out GREAT, but a couple of the other glasses with 2 were a bit smaller than the rest of the single skewered glasses.
And as you can see in the photo, they didn't all grow at the same rate. The purple one was the biggest we had. So there are obviously many variables to doing this.
*There will be crystallized sugar in the bottom of your jars/glasses. Just run them in hot water and chip it out with a butter knife. It comes out pretty easily.*
Stay tuned for more fun candy making recipes!
TROUBLESHOOTING, March 2012
It's been over 6 months since I posted this method/recipe and I've received many positive emails, but a couple of ones that were failures from readers. So I thought I would post a troubleshooting section with tips that I have for success as well as some that I found when I "Googled" it. I know how frustrating it can be when it doesn't work out (It's happened to me too) and I always hear, "I tried making that as a child, but it never worked), so there must be a large variance in things that affect the outcome. So here goes...
Make sure your glass/jars are clear and CLEAN.
Make sure your sugar ratio is AT LEAST 2:1-3:1 You may need more depending on how quickly it reaches saturation...
"Mix equal parts of water and sugar in a pot on med-high heat until dissolved. Then continue to add sugar until you have AT LEAST a 2:1 ratio. You can also do a 3:1 ratio. It will get to a point where it won't dissolve anymore......"
When I said it will get to a point where it will not dissolve anymore, that does not mean that it will be gritty and super thick. It will still look like a clear syrup, but a little cloudy. That is when you will know that it is a saturated ratio. Just make sure you bought extra sugar so that if you get to a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio and it is still dissolving super quickly that you can add a little more.
Place in a WARM, SUNNY location. I made this last batch in September when it was still humid and 80+ degrees. I'm not sure if the time of year has anything to do with it or not.
If after a couple of days you don't see any sugar settling on the bottom of the glass, it means that there most likely wasn't enough sugar when you started. Just reheat your syrup to a simmer and add a bit more. Pull your skewers out and just roll the sticky skewers in more sugar and let it sit while you reheat your syrup. Is this frustrating to do? Yep. I know, because I've done it before!
Online TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS
I have not tried the following, but I thought if what I've shared that worked for me hasn't worked for you, that maybe something here will help.
No crystal growth
This is usually caused by using a solution that isn't saturated. The cure is to dissolve more solute into the liquid. Stirring and applying heat can help to get solute into solution. Keep adding solute until you start to see some accumulate at the bottom of your container. Let it settle out of solution, then pour or siphon the solution off, being careful not to pick up undissolved solute. If you don't have any more solute to use, you can take some comfort in knowing that the solution will become more concentrated over time, as evaporation removes some of the solvent. You can speed this process by increasing the temperature where your crystals are growing or by increasing air circulation. Remember, your solution should be loosely covered with a cloth or paper to prevent contamination, not sealed.
If you are sure your solution is saturated, try to eliminate these other common reasons for lack of crystal growth:
Too much vibration Keep your crystal setup in a quiet, undisturbed location.
- Contaminant in the solution The fix is to re-make your solution. The fix only works if you can avoid contamination (won't work if your starting solute is the problem). Common contaminants include oxides from paper clips or pipe cleaners (if you're using them), detergent residue on the container, dust or something else falling into the container.
- Inappropriate temperature Experiment with temperature. You may need to increase the temperature around your crystals to get them to grow (increases evaporation). For some crystals, you may need to decrease the temperature (which slows the molecules down and gives them a change to bind together).