- The process of modifying sugar (pure granulated sucrose) by dissolving it in a little water then heating it without stirring to various temperatures to produce various non-crystalline consistencies until finally there is caramelization which changes its flavour and chemical composition. The stages are: small thread (103°C), large thread (107°C), soft ball (115°C), hard ball (121°C), hard crack (157°C), and caramel (182°C). With practice these stages can be judged by the behaviour of the sugar between the fingers or when dropped into cold water or on a cold plate. In the USA the stages recognized are thread (110°C), soft ball (112°C), firm ball (118°C), soft crack (132°C), hard crack (149°C) and caramel (154 to 170°C). The differences may be due to differences in the sugar. In France and Europe generally, the density of the sugar water mixture in °Be is often used but is rather inconvenient. Many names for the various stages exist and the above are not exclusive.