In heavy two quart saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook and stir over medium high heat until sugar dissolved. Avoid splashing syrup on sides of pan.
Cook, without stirring, to 260F or hard-ball stage (a few drop of syrup, dropped into cold water forms a hard ball when removed from water).
Remove from heat. Immediately, in large bowl, beat egg whites at high speed with electric mixer to stiff peaks. Remove the thermometer, gradually pour hot syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed. Add syrup slowly to insure proper blending. Add vanilla and a few drops food coloring, if desired. Beat at high speed for four to five minutes until candy holds its shape when beaters are lifted.
If candy is beaten enough, mixture will stay mounded in a soft shape when a spoonful is dropped onto wax paper. If mixture flattens out, beat 1/2 to one minute more. The mixture is over beaten if it is too stiff to spoon and surface is rough. If mixture is too stiff, beat in hot water a few drops at a time, until candy is a softer consistency. When candy holds its shape, stir in fruit and nuts, as desired.
Quickly drop candy by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.
Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana