Vermont Maple Candy
Maple candy, or maple sugar candy, whichever name you use (we've heard just about everything), is comprised of 100% Vermont maple syrup with no additives besides time, temperature, and some stirring. The maple candy we produce here at Carman Brook Farm is handmade in small batches from our family’s sugarhouse kitchen in northern Vermont.
We think it's nice to give a gift that you know isn't loaded with preservatives (maple syrup/products are naturally shelf stable due to lack of moisture), or struggle to read the ingredient list to see what you might be consuming. Our candy maker is producing a new batch nearly daily to ensure the freshest product is delivered to your doorstep. Also, be sure to keep an eye out, as throughout the year we have unique shapes available for the major holidays.
- Harvested, evaporated, and produced 100% on farm.
- Single ingredient product: Carman Brook Farm maple syrup.
- Melt in your mouth texture and a rich maple finish.
How to make maple candy?
We primarily select only our lightest maple syrup when designating a barrel as, "candy syrup". Typically, we use maple syrup graded Golden Delicate, or a very light Amber Rich Taste as it has the lowest invert sugar content, preventing large sugar crystals from forming. Darker syrup by nature possesses greater levels of invert sugar, which fosters caramelization and leaves the bold flavors that fans of this syrup covet. The experienced candy makers reading this know that the name of the game is to prevent crystal formation in order to produce candy with a silky smooth finish. Carefully choosing the right grade of maple syrup will go a long way in ensuring your success if you choose to try your hand candy-making at home.
For our process, we start with only a few gallons of maple syrup per batch to control the quality to our exacting standards. We heat the syrup to 30-35 degrees F above the boiling point of water to further concentrate the sugar content. For the home chef, an accurate thermometer is key. Following this, we cool the syrup and slowly pour the concentrated syrup in our candy-making machine. A slow pour is key, for the home chef and professional alike to control the aforementioned sugar crystal formation. Remember, you want the sugar crystal to form on your terms rather than watching exasperatingly as your mixture turns white and coarse. Our machine uses an auger to control crystal formation, but slow stirring at home will accomplish this just as surely if you're careful.
At this point, you'll want to pour into your candy mold, make sure whatever you're using is heat tolerant! It's also fine to just pour them on a baking sheet and cut out squares after the fact! We've included this video from Little House on the Prairie that explains just how we would do it in the kitchen.
- Heat your syrup 30-35 degrees F above the boiling point of water (remember, this changes depending on your sea level altitude!)
- Let cool to 175 degrees F, this happens quickly, 10 minutes or less.
- Stir carefully to form a fine crystal.
- Pour into your mold or pan and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
How long does maple candy last?
- Buy or make only what you will consume in a month's time.
- Prolong life by preventing contact with air, and storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
Our short and sweet answer is this, maple candy is never better than the day it is made. As we mentioned, we make our maple candy weekly and on-demand as orders arise to ensure freshness. Over time sugar candy will start to dry out, you can prolong the length it will keep in the refrigerator or freezer. You only let it sit out for 5-10 minutes to let it warm back up before consuming. A good general rule to follow is to buy or make what you will consume as candy in a month’s time, and use up any leftovers in a bowl of oatmeal or in a hot beverage. It might not retain the silky texture over time, but it is a fine replacement for anything you would use white sugar for.
Over the past year we've been experimenting with a 1/2 lb. in the freezer that we taste about every other month, so far (about 9 months in) we've had satisfactory results in taste and texture. In our test this is about the maximum I would expect to still have something resembling fresh candy. Again, don't throw it out, there are plenty of uses for maple candy if you forget about it.
How does temperature affect maple syrup candy?
- Keep out of direct sunlight.
- Avoid high temperatures and humidity.
In addition to what we explained in the previous section, hot and humid weather has an outside effect on the maple candy quality. If conditions are excessively humid and hot, the candy begins to reabsorb moisture from the air, starts weeping, and tends to stick together. We've never had this happen during the shipping journey, but candy left in a serving bowl on a hot humid afternoon/night would be susceptible to this issue. Again, this shouldn't have an outside effect on the taste, but it will certainly look less attractive. The clumped-up candy is still perfect over grated French or hot buttered toast, a sweetener in your coffee, or broken into chunks as you would candy. A cool, dry place to store your maple candy is the official recommendation of Carman Brook Farm.
New flavors of maple candy!
Maple candy is typically made with the lightest grade of maple syrup, Golden Delicate Taste. This grade is what sugar makers have been using for years to produce the best examples of this maple confection, and if you remember these from your childhood, that's more than likely what you remember. For the maple syrup to be set up to the correct consistency after the proper cooking and cooling procedures, it must have the right amount of invert sugars. Typically, the optimum levels are consistently found in the lighter grade of syrup, as we've mentioned many times on this page.
At our farm, we're always looking for a fresh take on traditional maple recipes, and with that, we have a loyal customer base that prefers our darker grades of syrup. With this in mind, we decided to break the norms of the industry and figure out a way to produce a darker syrup-based maple candy. After some research and development, we finally found a method to develop a consistent, and more importantly, up to our standards maple candy using Dark Robust Taste maple syrup. The dark candy has a much more full-bodied maple flavor and contrasts beautifully with the lighter candy if you select a mixed 1/2 or 1 lb. box of candy. The mixed box also allows you to avoid committing to a full box if you like the traditional light candy more.
One of the benefits of being produced with nothing but 100% pure maple syrup, is that maple candy retains the gluten-free and vegan qualities of its original form. Maple syrup is produced from tree sap tapped in the springtime, then boiled down to 40 times less than its original volume with no additives. As you've seen mentioned on this page, the process to turn maple syrup into maple candy is relatively straightforward, with the only secrets being the handling procedures to control sugar crystal formation, ensuring the smoothest candy possible. Carman Brook Farm candy is sustainably harvested and produced using all natural tree sap, our tapping practices ensure our trees grow uninterrupted throughout their entire natural lifespan.
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