December 20, 2013

A 1920s Lesson on Christmas Candy

An excerpt from Foods and Cookery and the Care of the House: First Lessons for Elementary Schools, 1921:

Home-made candy, packed attractively in pretty boxes or baskets, makes a good Christmas gift.

Small children are better without candy, but it may be used by older persons if it is eaten in reasonable amounts. Candy is more easily digested at the end of a meal than between meals. Candy contains a large proportion of sugar, and sugar when eaten alone is irritating to the digestive organs. A great deal of sugar is found in some dried fruits, such as raisins, dates and figs, and in this form sugar is better for the small child than in candy.

Loaf, granulated and powdered are the forms in which sugar is sold. Sugar is made either from sugar cane or sugar beets. The juice which is extracted goes through many processes before the sugar is ready for the market.

When making candies that are to be of a creamy consistency, it is better to use part glucose instead of all granulated sugar. Commercial glucose is a syrup that does not crystallize, and therefore helps to keep the candy smooth and creamy. Commercial glucose is manufactured by boiling cornstarch with an acid, and is usually sold in tin containers.

By boiling candy mixtures to different temperatures, different types of syrup may be made. It is always best to use a candy thermometer in order to know when the syrup is cooked enough but not too much. When making fudge, panocha and fondant, the candy should be cooked until it reaches the "soft-ball stage", 236 F.; for chocolate caramels, cook to the "hard-ball stage", 254 F.; for butterscotch, popcorn balls and molasses taffy, cook to the "crack stage ", 270 F.

Caramelized sugar is sugar that has been heated without moisture until it melts and becomes a brown syrup. When this is poured over peanuts it is known as " peanut brittle." Caramelized sugar is used also for flavoring custards and cake icings, and in sauces.

Other materials that may be used in cookery to take the place of sugar are honey, maple sugar and syrups of different kinds.

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