Originally Posted by thirstyutahn
I couldn't for the life of me get this stuff to stay in liquid form. I followed the directions to a T and absolutely couldn't get it to stay liquid. As soon as it cooled it was a hard crystallized mess. I finally made one batch and kept it hot and then dumped it into my kettle near the end of the boil, that worked fine and it's very tasty. I gave up after about 4 failed attempts. I tried to find an answer in this thread but couldn't.
Are you adding water after the fact to bring the temperature back down after the fact? It's not enough to simply let it cool down by itself, it needs to be done by adding more water. After cooling it down with water, it needs to be brought back up to 240° and *no higher*.
If you HAVE followed the instructions properly and still end up with hard candy, your thermometer is wrong.
It solidifies into hard candy when brought to a certain temperature (and cooled). As the solution is boiled, the boiling temp increases BECAUSE the water evaporates, which means that the concentration of the solution is increasing. As such, the highest temperature reached before cooling is an indicator of the water content, which is why making syrups or candy is all about temperature... once the water content of the solution is reduced to a certain point, it will harden at room temperature. This is why it needs to be cooled down with water, so that water is added back into the solution, and the final concentration is tightly controlled by letting it heat back up to 240°.
So if you followed the instructions properly, either your thermometer is off by a fair bit, or you're making some sort of measurement error. Or just have the wrong temperature in mind. Either way, chemistry dictates that you're letting the temp get too high. It's not even a case of "most likely" - without adding further ingredients, this is the ONLY way it will solidify when cooled.
Although even if you only have hard candy to work with, it can still be added to the boil or fermentor (though it's harder to measure out only a specific portion).