Homemade Salt Water Taffy is not only a fun and delicious activity it can also be a chemistry lesson: The Effect of Temperature and Torsion on a Saccharide.
The first time I made salt water taffy was in high school chemistry class the day before winter break. Most of my classmates still remember it fondly. Through the grace of Facebook, I was able to track down my chemistry teacher, Mr. Ulrich, and obtain a copy of the experiment complete with cooking term translation for those that haven't been in a chemistry class in decades (me!)
If you want the actual chemistry experiment, using terms like "reagent" and "moles", use the first one. Otherwise, the cooking term translation is below that.
Taffy Making Tips
- be careful doubling or tripling this. It is better to make a few smaller batches unless you have plenty of hands to help with the pulling.
- use lots of margarine, butter or coconut oil on the pan and your hands.
- have a good candy thermometer like this one or this one.
- have fun and don't worry about the results too much.
The Effect of Temperature and Torsion on the Structure of Saccharide
- 110 ml sucrose (sugar)
- 1 ml NaCl (salt)
- 74 ml glucose (corn syrup)
- 48 ml H2O (water)
- food coloring
- 1 ½ tablespoon margarine, butter, coconut oil
- 4-hydroxy-3methoxybenzaldehyde (vanilla)
- 3-ppmethanol (peppermint)
- isoamyl acetate (banana)
- methyl salicylate (wintergreen)
- glycyrrhezec acid (licorice)
- hesperidin (lemon)
- Place the first four reagents in the large beaker. Thoroughly mix with stirring rod. Place over gentle to moderate flame until all the sucrose has dissolved, stirring constantly. Increase the heat and do not stir during the rest of the heating. The stirring rod may be used to keep crystals from forming on the sides of the beaker at the beginning of the experiment.
- When the solution begins to boil, insert the thermometer (Don't let it touch the bottom of the beaker or you will get the temperature of the hot beaker rather than the solution). Heat until the thermometer registers 270 degrees While heating, prepare an aluminum foil pan and lubricate with hydrogenated vegetable oil. (The pan is made out of aluminum foil by bending up the edges about 1" all the way around.)
- You will need 1 & ½ slices of margarine which you will be given already divided in 3 parts. One for the mixture after reaching 270 degrees F (next step), one piece of margarine for the pan, and one part for you & your lab partners hands, when you are ready to pull the taffy, NOT now.
- As soon as the beaker reaches 270 degrees F, remove the heat, and add one slice of hydrogenated vegetable oil while stirring gently. The darkening of the mixture indicates the carbonization of some of the saccharide molecules and this color should not get dark brown, as it then begins to taste burnt.
- Pour the mixture onto the aluminum foil pan using the big beaker tongs. When the beaker is empty place the beaker in the hot soapy water at your lab table along with the thermometer and stirring rod. (Start washing the beaker & other materials NOW as taffy is cooling).
- When the mixture is cool enough to touch the top, take approximately 1 ml of your favorite flavoring* and 3 drops of your desired color* (you may wish to bring your favorite from homand sprinkle them across the mixture. (Estimate the 1 ml- do not try to measure it.) Do not attempt to mix these last two reagents, as they will become mixed as you pull the mixture.
- Each team member should now lubricate their hands with the remaining hydrogenated vegetable oil. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, begin to pull and fold, pull and fold. This allows the molecules to align themselves and add air to the mixture.
- When the mixture takes on a satin sheen, pull off bit-size pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Options may be to build a candy cane. Your imagination may provide an interesting option to this experiment. Consume the product.
- Make sure your lab bench is just as you found it, thermometer and stir stick in the beaker, a new bag of sucrose and one piece of aluminum foil. All paper towels in the trash and the lab bench free of taffy, sugar, etc. Carefully dump the wash water into your lab sink. Place the green scrub pads on the lab top near the sink edge and take the pans to the back lab table.
Salt Water Taffy
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup corn syrup
- ¼ cup water
- pinch salt
- food coloring
- flavoring (vanilla, peppermint, coconut, banana, licorice, etc.)
- margarine (butter, coconut oil for coating your hands and the pan)
- Place the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in a small saucepan with a candy thermometer attached to the pan (be sure to have it raised off of the bottom of the pan). Mix thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved, stirring constantly. Increase the heat and do not stir during the rest of the heating. You may wipe down any crystals that form on the sides of the pan as it heats.
- Heat until the thermometer registers 270 degrees. While the mixture heats, liberally grease a small pan (pie pan, cookie sheet for a toaster oven, make one out of aluminum foil) with ½ tablespoons margarine.
- As soon as the mixture reaches 270 degree F, remove from the heat, and add ½ tablespoon of margarine while stirring gently. Pour the mixture into the pan and allow to cool.
- When the mixture is cool enough to touch the top, take approximately 1 ml of your favorite flavoring and 3 drops of your desired color and sprinkle them across the mixture. (Estimate the 1 ml - do not try to measure it.). You don't need to blend it yet, it will blend while pulling.
- Coat your hands with the remaining margarine. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, begin to pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold. It's going to take awhile!
- When the mixture takes on a satin sheen, pull off bite-size pieces and devour or wrap in plastic wrap.
More Candy Recipes
Until next time, happy eating.
Thanks for hosting a tasty party!!
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
Audrey, thank you for hosting. Salt water taffy -- what a fun science experiment!
Lou Lou Girls
Hello cute lady! We love stopping by your party each week! We would love you to stop by our party that goes until Friday at 7 pm. We pin and tweet everything at our party. Lou Lou Girls
Thanks for partying with us.
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
Audrey, I'm #123 this morning. Thanks for the party.
This could be a dangerous recipe for me. I love salt water taffy. Now I can make it homemade.
I'm sorry if I enabled you. 😉
Oh I really want to try this. We have a friend visiting from Japan in a few months. This sound like a good project to do during her visit!
I hope you have a great visit.
Mother of 3
Ooooh! I think I just found out next summer science experiment; thank you! Pinned!
Yummy and how fun is this?!?!? My grandmother LOVES this stuff - perhaps Ill try making some for her to see if I can measure up! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this Audrey
It is fun to make and eat too, of course.
Is it possible to do this without a candy thermometer?
I wouldn't try it unless you have made candy plenty of times before. Some people can do it by dropping some into a glass of water, but that method never worked for me.
Mother of 3
Ooh! I have two boys that just LOVE salt water taffy; turning it into a fun science experiment just makes this recipe so much better! Pinned.