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Multicolored sugar-and-glaze coated chocolate buttons

Candy, specifically sugar candy, is a confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar in water, to which flavorings and colorants are added. Candies come in numerous colors and varieties and have a long history in popular culture. The word "candy" comes from the Sanskrit "çahn-da", meaning "piece (of sugar)," which again perhaps from Dravidian (cf. Tamil kantu "candy," kattu "to harden, condense")."[1] In North America, candy is a broad category that includes candy bars, chocolates, licorice, sour candies, salty candies, tart candies, hard candies, taffies, gumdrops, marshmallows, and more. Vegetables, fruit or nuts glazed and coated with sugar are called candied. Candy is considered unhealthy by many. Outside North America, the generic name for candy is sweets or confectionery (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other Commonwealth countries). In Australia and New Zealand, sweets are, in normal usage, further categorized as either chocolate or lollies (for all other non-chocolate candies).

In North America, the UK, and Australia, the word lollipop refers specifically to sugar candy with flavoring on a stick. While not used in the generic sense of North America, the term candy is used in the UK for specific types of foods such as candy floss (cotton candy in North America and fairy floss in Australia), and certain other sugar based products.

Contents

Manufacture

Jellybeans
Hard candy

Candy is made by dissolving sugar in water or milk to form a syrup, which is boiled until it reaches the desired concentration or starts to caramelize. The type of candy depends on the ingredients and how long the mixture is boiled. Candy comes in an endless variety of textures from soft and chewy to hard and brittle. Some examples of candy are: caramel candy, toffee, fudge, praline, tablet, gumdrops, jelly beans, rock candy, lollipops, taffy, cotton candy, candy canes, peppermint sticks, peanut brittle, chocolate-coated raisins or peanuts, hard candy (called boiled sweets in British English) and candy bars.

Sugar stages

The final texture of candy depends on the sugar concentration. As the syrup is heated, it boils, water evaporates, the sugar concentration increases, and the boiling point rises. A given temperature corresponds to a particular sugar concentration. In general, higher temperatures and greater sugar concentrations result in hard, brittle candies, and lower temperatures result in softer candies. These "stages" of sugar cooking are:[2]

Stage Temperature in °F Temperature in °C Sugar concentration
thread 230-233°F 110-111°C 80%
soft ball (e.g., fudge) 234-240°F 112-115°C 85%
firm ball 244-248°F 118-120°C 87%
hard ball 250-266°F 121-130°C 92%
soft crack 270-290°F 132-143°C 95%
hard crack (e.g., toffee) 295-310°F 146-154°C 99%
clear liquid 320°F 160°C 100%
brown liquid (caramel) 338°F 170°C 100%
burnt sugar 350°F 177°C 100%

The names come from the process used to test the syrup before thermometers became affordable: a small spoonful of syrup was dropped into cold water, and the characteristics of the resulting lump were evaluated to determine the concentration of the syrup. Long strings of hardened sugar indicate "thread" stage, while a smooth lump indicates "ball" stages, with the corresponding hardness described. The "crack" stages are indicated by a ball of candy so brittle that the rapid cooling from the water literally causes it to crack.

This method is still used today in some kitchens. A candy thermometer is more convenient, but has the drawback of not automatically adjusting for local conditions such as altitude, as the cold water test does.

Once the syrup reaches 340 °F (171 °C) or higher, the sucrose molecules break down into many simpler sugars, creating an amber-colored substance known as caramel. This should not be confused with caramel candy, although it is the candy's main flavoring.

Candy and vegetarianism

Skittles

Some candy, including marshmallows and gummi bears, contain gelatin derived from animal collagen, a protein found in skin and bones, and is thus avoided by vegetarians and vegans. "Kosher gelatin" is also unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans, as it is derived from fish bones.[3] Other substances, such as agar, pectin, starch and gum arabic may be used as gelatin replacers, although the texture of the final product may differ from the original.

Other ingredients commonly found in candy that are not vegetarian or vegan friendly include: carmine, which is a dye made from the cochineal; and confectioner's glaze, which may contain wings or other insect parts.

Shelf life

The shelf life of candy can be anywhere from two weeks to much more than a year.[4] This may be shortened, if the candy is not stored in a cool, dry place.

Health aspects

Cavities

Candy generally contains sugar, and sugar can lead to damaged teeth. However, it is not sugar itself that damages the teeth. Several types of bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutans, are present in the mouth, and these feed on sugar. When they metabolize the sugar, they create acids in the mouth which demineralize the tooth enamel and can lead to dental caries.[5] To help prevent this, dentists recommend that individuals should brush their teeth regularly, particularly after every meal and snack.

Glycemic index

Candy has a high glycemic index (GI), which means that it causes a high rise in blood sugar levels, after ingestion. This is chiefly a concern for people with diabetes, but could also be dangerous to the health of non-diabetics.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ "candy", OED http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=candy
  2. ^ The Cold Water Candy Test, Exploratorium; Sugar Syrup Chart at Baking911
  3. ^ Kashrut.com
  4. ^ candyfavorites.com
  5. ^ National Confectioners Association
  6. ^ Balkau et al. (1998) "High blood glucose concentration is a risk factor for mortality in middle-aged nondiabetic men. 20-year follow-up in the Whitehall Study, the Paris Prospective Study, and the Helsinki Policemen Study." Diabetes Care 1998 Mar;21(3):360-7

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also candy

Contents

English

Alternative spellings

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Candy

Plural
-

Candy

  1. A pet form of the female given name Candace or Candice.

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of acdny
  • dancy

Simple English

Candy is a sweet kind of food that is usually made from sugar and water, with flavors and other ingredients added. The word "candy" comes from the Indian word khanda, which means 'a piece' or 'a piece of sugar'.

The word candy comes from the Persian word "cane sugar", and probably also from Sanskrit khanda, which means "piece (of sugar)".[1]

Candy is found in almost any store as they are made by many companies. Candy can also be made at home. Many people like candy and think it tastes good. Other people do not like it. Candy contains lots of sugar, so it is not very healthy, but can be eaten sometimes. It is the most common snacking food, and there are hundreds of flavors, shapes, and sizes.

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