Sweet Tooth: All About Pennsylvania Hardtack Candy

Classic candy lovers all have their preferred brands. When you think of candy, you might automatically think of a certain brand, but don’t discount the sweets that were once reserved only for home.  In the Midwest and the Northeast, where hardtack has a long tradition, it is often given as a homemade Christmas or birthday present. Instead of making these one-of-a-kind sweets at home with boiling sugar and a thermometer, you may now simply place an order.

Read on to learn more about how these special candies are made and why they make such amazing sweet treats!

Traditional Hard Candies Made From Scratch

Hardtack candy is a delightful confectionary treat with an equally sweet history! Because of the labor involved, taffy pulls and caramel boils were often community events, but hardtack candy is simple enough to make at home with just one or two individuals.

The sugar is melted to a hardball or hard crack stage, which possibly led to the name. Others claim it was named from the hardtack biscuit, which was once eaten by sailors and soldiers alike. Because many individuals are hesitant to manufacture candy at home these days, it’s a good thing hardtack candy is accessible for purchase.

Making Christmas Even More Special

Back in the day, it was easy and affordable to make candy at home using just a few ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, and flavorings to share with loved ones. Since these supplies were readily available several decades ago, the practice spread to numerous states, including Pennsylvania. Some regional traditions of hardtack candies have developed their own unique flavor throughout time.

Taste Alleghenies Hardtack Candy for Yourself!

Hard candies with unusual flavor combinations, like Butter Rum and Moonshine, pay homage to the Allegheny region’s colorful past. You may find a variety of unique hardtack candies at Alleghenies Marketplace, including:

  • Jack Daniels Rootbeer
  • Pickle-flavored Moonshine
  • Crown Royal Apple
  • Apple Pie Moonshine
  • Cinnamon Fireball

You can also find plenty of classic candy flavors, like raspberry and wintergreen. Hardtack candy comes in a wide variety of flavors, so everyone can find something they like. The unique forms and vibrant colors are a bonus when shopping for a present.

Sugar-Coated Perfection

The secret to perfect hardtack candy? A light dusting of sugar on every piece. When making hardtack candies, professionals often use superfine granulated sugar rather than powdered sugar for this phase. The powdery texture and lack of flavor mask the true flavor. These glossy candies would cling together without the coating, no matter what kind of sugar was used. Without the sugar coating, they will rapidly become a single mass if exposed to damp air, even if stored in an airtight container. It also prevents the candy from sticking to your fingers, which is helpful when reaching for a second serving.

Hardtack Candy Is Not Just “Hardtack”

Don’t mix up the well-known hardtack candy with the much less popular hardtack. It’s a kind of biscuit that is made from flour, water, and a little salt. Because it doesn’t have any other ingredients, it doesn’t go bad after being stored for a long time. It was a food source that sailors, soldiers, and settlers all used in case of an emergency. Even though hardtack candies are hard, they’re not as sweet and won’t last as long as hardtack biscuits.

Can You Make Gluten-Free Hardtack Candy?

Any candy can be gluten-free or not, depending on what is used to make it. Hardtack candy only needs a few things to come together, but the sugar that covers the outside might have gluten in it, depending on the type of starch that is used. If you’re worried about gluten, be sure to ask the vendor whether their product is gluten-free. You should also carefully check the label of any candy before buying it if you have dietary restrictions.

How Long Can I Keep Hardtack Candy Before It Goes Bad?

When kept in the right way, hardtack candies last about a year, just like other kinds of hard candy. Light or water can shorten the life of something. If the candies aren’t in their original sealed package, don’t put them in the freezer or fridge. Many containers can let water in. Candy that has been opened should be eaten within a month for the best taste and texture. You can also put them in a container for long-term storage as soon as you open the package so that you can enjoy them for a longer time.

How to Store Hardtack Candy

Look for an air-tight candy dish or food storage system for your favorite candies. If you buy a lot at once and need to store it for its maximum lifespan, try vacuum sealing the candies and keeping them in a dark and cool place.

Keep your hardtack candy in an air-tight container. If you buy a lot at once, try using a vacuum seal, then place your sugary treasures in a cool, dark place.

You can also add some food-grade silica oxygen absorbers to keep your candies from sticking together and congealing. Look for candies packaged in airtight bags. These are ready to store and can last a long time without any effort on your behalf.

Gifting Hardtack Candy: The Perfect Sweet Treat!

When picking out candy to give as a gift, think about what flavors your family and friends like best. For kids, round or square shapes are better than the shards that are sometimes used for homemade candy.

Pick out a fun or themed candy jar to go with the hardtack to finish off the gift. You should use a variety of tastes so that everyone can discover a new favorite. The jewel-like colors of the candy look their best when they’re in clear glass.

Should You Go for One Flavor or a Mixed Bag?

Ordering bulk bags of your favorite flavors is a good choice if you have a strong preference. But most people who like candy are often excited to try new and different tastes. In this case, you can get the most out of your purchase by buying a mixed bag of different hardtack candies!

Mixed bags are also great for sharing. You can enjoy them with people who have different tastes or give them as gifts when you don’t know what they like. With seasonal flavor mixes, it’s easier than ever to have a party. Of course, you could decide that one flavor is your favorite and only want that kind of hardtack candy from then on.

One of those old treats that brings back lots of good memories is hardtack candy. Instead of trying to mix this recipe yourself on a hot day and risking getting hot sugar on your clothes, you might want to order some Sweet Tooth Memories products from Alleghenies Marketplace.

There are over 20 flavors of candy that you can choose from that show off the best of the area. Each package seals tightly to keep the candy fresh. Enjoy some old-fashioned candy that people of all ages can enjoy.

If you’d like to try hardtack candy yourself, click here to explore our selection and more products in Allegheny, PA!

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