Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Taffy Time!!!

Most people think of the county or state fairs when they think taffy. Those big machines they have inside the booths pulling various colors of taffy. Sweet scents drift out over the crowd and are mixed with the smell of frying food and popcorn. However, when I think of pulling taffy I think of those wonderful moments when my neighbor taught us how to pull our own taffy.


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For DAYS afterwards we’d get our Laura Ingles Wilder books out and find where she fed the pigs taffy and read, laugh and talk about how much fun pulling taffy was.




There were a few things that stood out clearly to me from the instructions Sarah Ann gave us. She would always tell us we’re holding too much taffy in our hands and not letting it slip through our fingers. I also distinctly remember the joy of discovering the “z” formation the taffy made as you pulled it with your taffy
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I loved getting my hands in food, even back then ;)
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Around the first of the year we were down in NYC visiting my in-laws and we decided that we’d try pulling taffy. It was my sister’s and my first experience branching out and making the taffy on our own. We called Sarah Ann and got the recipe from her and then we set to work making our mixture.


We watched as it boiled and boiled. WE smelled it making sure it had that interesting smell that we still remembered, even after all the years. Taffy is very sensitive, you need to get it at the right temperature and then send it outside to cool.
If you cook it a slight degree hotter for too long it could be disastrous. We tested it in the water and we also had a candy thermometer and it seemed fine… but it needed a little longerWELL somehow in the process of a “little longer” we cooked it a little hotter than we expected. I was not worried though, I thought we had everything under control. ;)
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PhotobucketPhotobucketThere were almost 20 people there that were going to want a turn at pulling taffy so we decided to make another batch. No one wanted to miss out on the pulling part and so after the first batch had cooled and they started pulling I got started on the second batch. Some people were asking me if I had left the other taffy outside too long because it was VERY solid and inflexibleI assured them it was fine, and that they just needed to get pulling it. Let’s just say, I was wrong, it wasn't ok. Some of the girls pulling the taffy were dragging each other across the floor because it was so tough.  I was glad that I had started the second batch.




I decided that the problem with the first batch was, #1 we had boiled it WAY too long and #2 I had left it outside a tad too long. The biggest issue was that it was boiled to such a high temperature that we were actually make hard candy instead of soft taffy.



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Surprisingly everyone liked the harder batch better, they thought it had more flavor!


The second batch was much more successful. I made sure that I was boiling it at a little lower temperature than the first batch. WE set it outside and watched it continually. Everyone buttered their hands; we divided the taffy into half and got pulling.
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Everyone caught on really well and I found that I was saying the same things my teacher, Sarah Ann, had. “Don’t let the taffy clump at your fingers; you have to let it flow through them.” “You don’t need a lot of butter; the taffy will stick to itself.” Everything went really well and we even moved outside to pull the last bit because it was colder and better for finishing the taffy off.
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Emily and I pulled for a while after everyone else was done.


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(sorry about the blurry pic it's the only one I have of me pulling the taffyI have always enjoyed pulling taffy however I’m a little more patient about waiting for my turn than I use to be:





Our second batch had a bit of failure towards the end. My husband went out to finish forming the strands and he put too much butter on his hands. Our perfect taffy went to strings and they had to keep pulling it some more. However, it changed the consistency of the taffy. Even though we had some problems the most important part to me is getting together with a group of people and trying something new! WE enjoyed teaching them how to pull taffy and it will definitely be an experience we try again, not only because it is fun but also because of all the memories it holds.


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Taffy Recipe:
2 lbs. of sugar
1 pint cream
1 pint Karo
a little parafin (optional, I didn't use this)


Boil together till nearly 240 degrees, or between soft and hard ball,
then add 1 T. unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water. Make sure you do this RIGHT before you are ready to use... otherwise it thickens before you pour it into the mixture.
Continue boiling and check temp.once the temperature is between 240 and 242 degrees place it on WELL greased cookie sheets and place in a cold place to cool. After taffy is cool enough to hand you can start pulling the taffy with moderately buttered hands. (my father in law has a video that I will upload ... someday) Make sure you don't let the taffy cool too long. after the taffy has turn to a white color and is no longer sticky you can form it into the right shape and wrap.

7 comments:

Micah Yoder said...

Pulling taffy made such a great social event. Thanks for taking me back to those early NY days. I'm proud of you for making your own taffy party.

Emilyyy said...

Micah, I think maybe we should pull taffy when you come in feb... :)

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

SO much fun! Erin, this is a great post!

. said...

whoa...so much fun! We need to do it again sometime soon...:) love the post chica! :)

Merlin said...

Good for you! I'm fascinated at how you remember Mom's instructions :)

Butter said...

I just left a comment on your Peru post and it holds true here too: You have a way of capturing the authenticity of your surroundings - what a great time! This looks like so much fun - I love the past and present photos while sharing the creation of your new memories :) I loved that picture where you were being "impatient" while waiting your turn to pull the taffy...lol...I can relate ha!
-Butter

Sherry L Dickinson said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post the recipe, the cooking instructions, and the pictures of your Taffy making. I really enjoyed this learning experience. I had kind of forgotten how much work is involved in this process. And, it can't be done single handedly; you have to have lots of people to help.
Your friends and family are blest to have you in their lives. You do a lot of neat things for them, and with them. You are a giving young woman. I like that.
Your friend in Arizona,
Sherry