Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

When I was little, I always wanted to have rock candy pops. I was so attracted to those rainbows of brightly colored, translucent crystals. And that wooden handle with the little ball at the end? Had to have it. I loved everything about rock candy—except for the taste, really. Too sweet for me.

The girls have my husband's sweet tooth, so we set out to make our own rock candy this week. Here's how we did it:

Start with 1 part water, 3 parts sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves (there may be some sugar that doesn't dissolve, you want the liquid to be just about saturated). Let the sugar water cool enough to be able to pour into glasses. At this point, you can add food coloring.

Suspend strings (roughly 6 inches long) from pencils and lay them over the tops of the glasses. We also put wooden skewers in the glasses to see which would work better.

Let it stand for a couple of days. This photo was taken after one day and you can see the crystals beginning to form on the string and skewer.

Two days later, the surface of the sugar water had completely hardened.

After three days, we removed the strings and skewers. We picked the crystals off the strings, and let all the candy harden for a day on wax paper. The skewers came out looking like those pops I remember, though they were quite a bit skinnier. They also had more crystals on them when we first took them out, but little mouths made short work of that candy before I could snap a picture.

The homemade rock candy looks as pretty as I had hoped it would, but it didn't make much. We used 1 cup of water and 3 cups of sugar. It you want to make a small bowl of rock candy, I would suggest at least doubling that. You can also experiment with leaving the strings/skewers in the glasses for longer or shorter periods of time.

Enjoy! Then go brush your/your kids' teeth...