Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/800

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
782
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
A PAPER OF CANDY.

By WILLIAM SLOANE KENNEDY.

FULLY to set forth the changes undergone by a cupful of cane-juice during its conversion, first into a cube of white sugar and then into a musk-lozenge or a lemon-drop, would require volumes. And even then one could not give a complete account of candy-making, for the reason that each skilled confectioner of hand-made candies has — like a painter or sculptor — his own incommunicable touch and methods. Yet a few words will suffice to give a general outline of the toothsome art.

We get our word "candy," not from the Cingalese city of that name, but from the Arabian quand, meaning sugar. Now, sugar is the crystallized juice of one of the gigantic grasses; candy, therefore, is only boiled grass-juice. As the bee collects from its two and a half million plants the nectar for its pound of honey, so man — a kind of giant bee — extracts from various plants their delicious liquors, which he afterward turns by his art into that sweet and shining sand called sugar. It was the ancients who called the crystals of sugar sweet sand and gravel — the Sanskrit word çarkara (our sugar) meaning gravel. Sugar is made in small quantities, it is true, from the palm-tree, the sorghum-cane, beets, California watermelons, potato-starch, and milk; yet the only kind that is used for the best candies is the clear juice of the Chinese cane, that tall and beautiful purple-striped and straw-colored plant of Malabar, Assam, Otaheite, Louisiana, and the West Indies, which even more than our mondamin, or tasseled maize, deserves the honor of poetical legends and myths.

The sugar-cane, like the domestic fowl, has taken two thousand years to make the circuit of the globe, always faithfully following man along a certain latitude in his westward migrations. From China or Bengal to Persia, Arabia, Spain, Madeira, Cuba, Louisiana, California — such has been its route, until now, facing westward, it may nod a welcome across the great Pacific to the shores of its old home in China and the East Indies.

In the making of candy some "raw" or brown sugar is taken (the best coming from the West Indies), but for the bulk of confections only refined sugar is used. Sugar may be clarified in small quantities by the white of eggs; in the plantation sugar-houses it is refined by lime or lime-water; but, in the great refineries, bone-black or animal charcoal is now used for this purpose, bullock's blood being discarded. When blood was used, its coagulation collected the impurities, which were then skimmed off, together with the coagulated blood. The reason of the immense height to which these refineries are built is that the liquid sugar, having once been raised to the highest story, may, in