Rock Steady

What do Sea Monkeys, avocado seeds and 4 cups of sugar melted into 2 cups of water have in common? Days, sometimes weeks of scientific viewing pleasure on your kitchen windowsill and, technically, all three are edible.

It’s the third for which I have a soft spot, even though it’s rock hard. Dissolve 4 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water. Put the syrup in a tall glass. Dip a length of cotton cooking string into the mixture that’s just a wee bit shorter than the length of the glass. Make sure the string is saturated. Remove and let the string dry completely. Resubmerge into the sugar water, weighing the end down with a fishing weight, a washer or something equally heavy to keep the string straight. Tie the top end to a pencil that rests on the lip of the glass so that it hangs in gentle suspension in the sweet drink. Alternatively, pour the liquid in a bowl and secure a piece of parchment over the rim with a rubber band, making sure the parchment is taught. Poke pre sugar-saturated and dried toothpicks through the parchment so that they are partially submerged in the sugar water. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, replace the 2 cups of water with coffee and produce java infused bonbons. No matter your method, let your experiment sit for at least 7 days.

The result from all this patience is rock candy. I cannot truthfully say that it would be any better to just suck on a sugar cube and bypass the above theatrics. But there’s something about those outsized crystals that grow as if on sucrose steroids that make them infinitely more edible. And what’s more gratifying than savoring the fruits of your own bounty, a treat homegrown?

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