How to Calibrate Your Candy Thermometer

How to Calibrate your Candy Thermometer

If you have ever felt apprehensive when it comes to making homemade candy, read on…this will change your life!

A few years ago, I learned the trick to making perfect candy. What I learned was that it’s very important to calibrate the candy thermometer before starting each batch. (When the thermometer is off even by only a few degrees it could mean the difference between soft taffy and a candy cane!)

To calibrate the thermometer, bring a pot of water to a boil with your candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pan. (Make sure it is not touching the bottom and also make sure there is enough water so that the pot won’t boil dry in 10 minutes!) After it has been boiling for 10 minutes, check the temperature. (Keep in mind that water boils at 212° when at sea level.) The reading on your thermometer will vary based on the thermometer itself, the altitude, the weather, the atmospheric conditions (like barometric pressure), etc. Oh, now I’m beginning to sound like a nerd!

It’s really not a big deal to calibrate the thermometer. I figure that if I’m going to go to all the effort and expense to make homemade candy, I don’t want to ruin the batch, so I do this every time.

Here’s an example of what I did: After boiling the water with the thermometer in it for 10 minutes, my thermometer read 215°. Because 215° is 3 degrees higher than 212°, this meant that I had to cook the caramel mixture to a reading of 3° higher than the recipe said.  My caramel recipe said to cook the mixture to 236°.  So I added 3 degrees and cooked my caramel mixture to 239°.

Now, if you try this and for example, your thermometer reads 209°, you would need to subtract 3° from your desired cooking temperature (remember the standard is 212°.)

It’s that simple!

Now that you know the trick, your candy should turn out perfectly!

2 thoughts on “How to Calibrate Your Candy Thermometer”

  1. Im gonna try to explain this the best I can… Not sure of the “correct” wording. I wanted to know if you might know how to get rid of the “air bubbles” in my candy thermometer? I have an expensive thermometer, I really dont wanna buy a knew one if I dont have to, but all of the red stuff (not sure if it is mercury) is not all to the bottom of my thermometer anymore, It is here and there all the way up to the top. Not really sure how it happened. I have used it, and it seems to do the job……but it is bugging me, lol

    Thanks and Merry Christmas.

    1. That’s strange! I’m not sure what would cause the air bubbles. I would try using this technique to calibrate it and see what temperature it reads. If it still works okay, I would just continue using it. (I do calibrate mine every time I am going to make a batch of candy.)

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