After the Tropical Pacific Cookies post I had a question about making the caramel without a candy thermometer. It can be done. In this case, you’re taking the caramel to the Firm Ball stage, or 248 degrees F. To test for that stage all you have to do is drop a little of the caramel from a spoon into cold water , and if it’s at the firm ball stage, it will form a firm ball in the water; one that won’t flatten when you take it out of the water, but remains malleable and will flatten when squeezed.
But, overall, if you’re interested in making candy, fudge, jam, lemon curd, or caramel, it’s indispensable. You can also use it to test the temperature for water or milk when proofing yeast. Use it for deep frying, though I don’t eat much deep fried foods (at least that I’ve cooked).
I’ve bought the expensive ones, the digital ones, and the cheapy ones. And, I’ve never had one of the cheap ones fail on me. But the expensive ones have. So, I whole-heartedly recommend going to the kitchenware section of your local grocery store and getting a cheap one. (And, yes, I have had a few different ones because I’ve broken them occasionally; they don’t fare well when dropped!). Even if you only take it out twice a year for lemon curd in the spring and fudge at Christmas, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Related posts (or other uses for your new candy thermometer):
Eggnog Ice Cream & Eggnog Pound Cake (for the cake topping)