Snow Candy

“One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow. They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

One of the exciting things I have been able to do in the short time I have been the new Marketing Director for the South Dakota Historical Society Press is to reintroduce myself to the novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The passage above is just one part of the story that has stuck with me as I grew up and moved on to reading adult accounts of life in the 1800s. The idea of snow candy —creating patterns out of maple syrup in the snow to make candy fascinated my young mind. In fact, I once sneaked a bottle of Aunt Jemima, or a similar brand, out into the mid-spring snow and ended up with a sticky puddle. Although I cannot remember why I decided I had to be secretive about my experiment, it was probably because I knew that my mother would tell me there was not enough snow or that it was too warm outside and I would have to wait until the next year. Luckily, I have a bit more patience now than I did then, and I look forward to researching recipes for snow candy in the coming months to repeat my experiment under better conditions. I will be sure to let you know how it goes.

Jennifer McIntyre

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8 thoughts on “Snow Candy

  1. During our first year of homeshcooling, I would read a chapter of the Little House books every morning after our breakfast. We, also, were very curious about the snow candy the Ingalls family made. Come the first snowfall, we decided to try it. We mixed the molasses with pure maple syrup and took turns drizzling in a pan of snow. To our delight, it worked!! I think the key is to use 100% pure maple syrup. We also wondered about the “ginger water” , and made that as well. Deliciously refreshing!

  2. I come from a large family. We did not make anything edible from snow, although there was plenty of it. It was deemed an unsanitary item to consume. It could be used for cooling purposes. I read the Laura Ingalls Wilding series in grade school. I read them as quickly as they were purchased, the last being “Many happy golden years”, completed when I was in 8th grade.

    I identify with her writings and the interactions within her family. I was able to attend the Pageant in De Smet. We toured the surroundings with a local man who knew the family.

  3. I read a number of recipes on the internet for snow candy as well this winter (my kids had been begging me for a couple winters already to make it). It does seem that boiling the syrup to the proper temperature helps. We had a mixed bag of results — some was gooey like taffy, other batches turned out more like a hard, brittle candy (probably when I actually had the syrup too hot). If you don’t heat the syrup at all it is more the consistency of a snow cone. 🙂

  4. We live in a part of Australia where it never snows – so we are going on a snow holiday in August! We will definitely be trying to make snow candy I loved reading the Little House Books when I was younger

  5. Growing up in New England, we made snow candy every now and then. The trick is to boil the maple syrup (real maple syrup) to at least soft ball stage (234 degrees) if you want it chewy. If you want it a little firmer, boil it to at least 244, and if you want it even firmer, 250. If you boil it to 270-300, you’ll end up a hard candy (and it’s really easy to ruin). So, anywhere from 234 – 250 is perfect for snow candy. Best thing: have some popsicle sticks on hand, pour out the hot syrup in long lines or squiggles on a pan heaped with clean new snow, and then start at one end of the line with the popsicle stick and roll the taffy-like candy around the top of the stick. Instant chewy lollipops!

  6. So fun to do! Yes, we boiled real maple syrup in a cast iron pan for a few minutes til thicker, then with very thick potholders, poured it out into squiggles & swirls onto snow and ice. Yum!!!

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