shelf life of homemade caramels???

lindawisconsinJune 30, 2009


My daughter is getting married in August, and she has asked me to make my homemade caramels for wedding favors. (I was so flattered!)

Usually I make these for Christmas and they don't take long to disappear.

We were making plans to be sure everything goes smoothly for the wedding ---

Making and wrapping hundreds of candies will surely be a labor of love. My daughter has promised to help with the wrapping but doesn't want to do this even a week before the wedding. I'm sure she will be very busy with the many other details.

I'd really like to have these done some time before the wedding.

How long can I keep homemade candy with out spoilage or loss to flavor and texture?

My recipe contains both butter and cream. I think these are the only ingredients I would worry about as far as food safety??

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Sorry, I can't really help. Home-made caramels last about 10 minutes around here!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 4:15AM
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Can't answer but I will b ump it up for someone who might know.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:53AM
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I make them every Christmas. I refrigerate them and they will last between one and two weeks. The longer they sit, the more grainy they start to become, so I would not do it more than 7-10 days ahead.
Good luck! Sounds like you will have your hands full!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:25AM
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I make caramels each year before xmas. They can be kept in fridge for more than a year (I discovered some at back of fridge yr. I broke my wrist & couldn't clean fridge.) I had wrapped each 1 in plastic wrap then put in ziploc bag & slipped that in another zip loc bag(was worried about any fridge smells, like melons. It worked well. When kept that long they had lost some moisture so were a little chewier than normal. But I usually eat leftover candies after xmas & run out by end of Jan. I open the new Zip-Loc bags & air out over nite as I don't want to risk any plastic taste even tho they are wrapped. Always have success this way. I am quite sure I have frozen them also but not positive. I have made up to 20 kinds of candy at xmas & give to friends & craft club members & some at church. So while fudge, divinity, white, peanut butter & butterscotch fudge,almond bark freeze well I generally don't freeze English toffee, peanut or nut brittle or caramels. You just don't want to put cut onion, pickled fish, etc in the fridge where it's so strong it might get through double bag to candy. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:25AM
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Why don't you make a batch now, and store some in the fridge, some in the freezer, and some in a sealed container in the pantry? Check their quality starting at a week, and then every few days after that. Then you will know for sure not just how long they can be kept, but at what cost to quality.

I used to sell and plan weddings, and I used to tell the brides to use the people who said, "if there's anything I can do to help." There are often many such friends who don't end up in the wedding party, but who will offer. Have her assign one or more of them to you to help wrap the candies. In fact, tell her that each friend who offers should be assigned at least one little detail like that. A few minor errands or tasks assigned can take a load off a bride's (and her mother's) mind and the people feel like they're really contributing.

Help mom wrap candies.
Pick up corsages & make sure each has a pin (and a few extra pins-sometimes they bend)
Walk through the dining room before the guests arrive to make sure the table settings are all complete and there are no spots on glasses, silverware etc. (You'd be surprised)
Deliver favors, candles (whatever) to the venue at the caterer's desired time.

You know, things like that...the piddly things that drive you out of your mind. Take a note of people who have offered to help and when one comes up, make a phone call instead of getting into the car yourself.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:36AM
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Thanks a lot everyone! I'll mull all this over and make a decision. Actually Rachelellen, this is my only task for the wedding. I have Fibromyaglia, a chronic pain condition so my daughter is making my load pretty light. I doubt if I'll be able to make it through the whole day, but I'm ok with that.
It is a great idea to walk through the dining room and check the tables!
She does have some relatives that asked to help and she is fielding that. We talked about assignments she might make yesterday. I ended up catering my brother's wedding three years ago (long story) so there are a few favors I can call in!
Thanks alot everyone for all your suggestions! It is great to have a place to ask these kind of questions!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 12:03PM
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Another resource would be over on the Cooksillustrated forum.

There is a recipe by Penny or Penni for caramels that is very widely made and discussed by members on that forum. Her recipe is with butter and condensed milk but there is a lot of discussion on making and storing it. Just search the forums for caramel or penny's caramel. Their search feature, in fact, the whole forum, is way more sophisticated than this one so you should find it pretty easily.

Rachelellen's idea of making a batch now and storing it three different ways with regular testing is a great idea.

Any chance of you sharing your recipe?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooks Illustrated Caramel search

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:24PM
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I have stored them at room temperature for two months, and they were okay, and my recipe also uses both cream and butter. I did store them in a cool room, however.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:48PM
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Hi! Sure I'll share!
Thanks for the suggestion for another recipe, but I have an aversion to condensed or evaporated milk. I've felt this way since I was a child, and I can taste it in any thing it is a part of! Strange, huh?

Anyway, here is the recipe, it came from a leaflet Diamond Walnuts put out for the holidays. It has a pure caramel taste, with notes of butter, vanilla and cream.

Diamond Walnuts Heavenly Caramels

1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups walnuts -- chopped

In a 2 quart glass measuring cup with handle, combine sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup and butter. Microwave at high 5 minutes. Stir well until sugar dissolves. Microwave at high 11 to 12 minutes or until mixture reaches 246F. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Pour into buttered 8 inch square pan. Let stand until firm. Cut into squares and wrap individually in waxed paper. Makes 1 1/4 pounds

You can of course, leave out the walnuts if you don't like nuts.

One caveat: the cooking time is greatly dependant on the wattage of your microwave. I learned this when the microwave I had used for years pooped out and we bought a higher wattage model. What came out was a horrid black mess! The original recipe was written for a 600 - 650 watt microwave.
If you are not sure of the wattage of your model, go slowly and carefully. Do the original 5 minute microwave, but test every few minutes with a candy thermometer or the firm ball test. Be sure to make notes on the time it takes to reach the done stage. Once you have completed the trial run successfully, this recipe is very simple!
Another tip: Let the caramels cool for 5 minutes or so before pouring into the pan. If the mixture is poured too hot, it melts all the butter off the pan, and you'll have a dickens of a time getting it out!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 11:52AM
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I did check on the storage and wrapping hints, and yes, there is a lot of discussion! Some great ideas there.
My daughter is coming over today, and we are going to make a test run. She has picked out the little boxes for the favors, and we are going to check candy wrapping techniques and cutting sizes. She has scheduled in a day a week before the wedding for a wrapping party with her bridesmaids. I think it won't be too bad if we have all the papers cut and the details worked out. Usually I just wrap in waxed paper and they look homemade. I wanted to have a nice looking product for the wedding. However, if you make it too nice, you run the risk of no one believing that they are homemade!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 12:06PM
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