A simple syrup recipe is one of the most versatile solutions you can ever have in your bar or in the refrigerator. It is an easier and simpler way to sweeten your cocktails, coffee, lemonade, and other beverages. Many home cooks also have a bottle or two of this simple recipe on hand to add a different kind of twist to the dishes. And as its name suggests, it is very simple and easy to make. A young kid who has a fair grasp of ratios should be able to make a versatile liquid sweetener. And if you’re wondering how to make simple syrup from scratch, you’re in the right place.
The Handy Simple Syrup
People call it sugar syrup in the sense that it is nothing more than a liquefied form of your ordinary table sugar. The traditional ratio is 1 part sugar to 1 part water. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot experiment. If you want something sweeter and with a thicker or more viscous consistency, then use more sugar. Now you have an idea what to tell people who ask you, “What is simple syrup?”
Since it is a sweetener in liquid form, you can use it in almost any dish or recipe that calls for sugar or any other type of sweetener. From iced teas to lemonades and iced coffees to other cold drinks, this fluid sweetener is perfect for cold beverages. Because it comes in liquid form, it is a lot easier to blend with your favorite cold drinks than your conventional sugar granules.
Having said that, a simple sugar recipe can be a wonderful substitute for traditional sweeteners in many dishes, too. Fancy a fabulous dessert? Then you can drizzle this rich and decadent fluid over your favorites. It’s a good way to elevate the natural sweetness of fruits. And if you’re a fan of baked goodies, the simple syrup can be a more “luxurious” way of adding sugariness to your delicacies. Grilled foods can taste more fabulous if you use liquefied sugar as a glaze.
Of course, one of the best ways to use a simple syrup is by adding it to your favorite cocktail drink. It’s what bartenders add to your Mojito, Margarita, Martini, and French 75. Other popular cocktails that use simple syrup include Mint Julep, Caipirinha, Cablecar, Mai Tai, Gimlet, Sazerac, and Daiquiri. It’s because of its ability to impart a natural sweetness to these drinks that makes the simple syrup a must-have in bars.
Making Your Very Own Simple Syrup
Simple syrups are available at your favorite specialty grocery stores. Some stores that sell liquor may also have them. However, because it is so easy to make, why bother spending tens of dollars on a ready-made bottled version of this sweetener when you can make your own?
Making your very own simple syrup is as easy as getting a cup of water and a cup of sugar. This is the more traditional 1:1 ratio that can provide you with a modest touch of sweetness to your cocktail. It’s sweet enough to titillate your taste buds, but not too sweet that it can overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients.
There are individuals, however, who prefer a richer and sweeter version of their syrup. If you’re such a person, then you should go for a 2:1 sugar to water ratio. What this means is that you will combine 2 cups of sugar for every cup of water.
So, how to make simple syrup? Here are the steps.
- Get a saucepan or a small pot, whichever is available in your kitchen.
- Put the ingredients into the pot, whether you’re aiming for the more traditional 1:1 syrup or the sweeter and richer 2:1 version.
- Turn on your stove to medium heat and bring the solution to a boil. Make sure to keep on stirring to help dissolve the sugar.
- If you can no longer see any sugar granules in the pot, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes if you’re aiming for the 1:1 syrup. If you need the 2:1 ratio, then simmer it for about 10 minutes only. Do not go beyond this simmering time as the syrup can become very thick the moment it cools.
- Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature.
- Pour the syrup into a clean and sterilized bottle. Seal it well and put it in the refrigerator.
A 1:1 simple sugar recipe can last for about a month in the fridge. The 2:1 version, however, can last 6 months. If you want to increase the shelf life of your simple syrup, then you may want to add vodka. This Russian drink has the uncanny ability to prolong the shelf life of simple syrup. For instance, adding a tablespoon of Vodka to a typical 1:1 syrup can extend its shelf life from 1 month to 3 months. And if the 2:1 syrup can already last 6 months, what more if you add vodka?
What makes vodka more interesting is that it also doesn’t add flavor to any of your cocktail. Of course, putting it in your coffee is never a good idea. Unless, of course, you want to start your mornings with a good booze and a cup of coffee.
How to Make Simple Syrup without a Stove
Did you know that there is an easier way to make a liquid sweetener? This will never involve any saucepans or small pots or a stove. They call it the bar syrup for the simple fact that bartenders adhere to this simplified version of non-alcoholic liqueur.
You still need the same base ingredients – sugar and water – though, and in their recommended proportions. The only other thing you need is a container that has an airtight and spill-proof lid. Pour the ingredients into this container and seal it tight. Now shake it with all your might to dissolve the sugar particles. Don’t stop until you can no longer see a single granule of sugar.
It is interesting to note that simple syrup made this way has a ‘thicker’ or more viscous consistency than a ‘heated’ syrup. It has something to do with the effects of heat on the chemical composition of sucrose. When heated, sucrose breaks into glucose and fructose. Hence, the “sweetness” that you taste in a heated syrup is the individual sweetness of fructose and glucose. Without the application of heat, it’s the sweetness of sucrose that you get to taste.
Now, sucrose has a thicker consistency than either fructose or glucose. As such, when you shake the sugar-water solution instead of heating it, you get a more viscous syrup.
A simple syrup only has two very basic ingredients: water and sugar. And since there’s not much variety in water, you can always tweak your liquid sweetener by replacing ordinary table sugar with other types.
If you want a maltier flavor in your cocktail drinks, then maybe you should go for darker sugars like demerara or turbinado. If you’re after a hint of caramel, then go for the turbinado or a light brown sugar. These are perfect for dark-rum-based cocktails or those that involve spices like cinnamon.
On the other hand, if you prefer a more subtle sweetness to your cocktails, then going for white sugar is still the best. There are also those who use caster sugar since it dissolves a lot faster. It’s perfect for making the bar syrup that doesn’t involve heating.
What makes simple syrup so versatile is that you can infuse it with the flavors that you like. From herbs to fruits and vegetables, it is possible to add a new flavor dimension to your favorite cocktail sweetener.
If you are going to infuse herbs into your syrup, it’s best to steep them first in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Strain or remove the herbs and add your sugar. Continue simmering for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the syrup ratio you’re aiming for. Steeping the herbs allows you to extract the flavor compounds and natural oils that get mixed into the syrup.
Infusing fruits depends on what you want to achieve. Using the “bar syrup” method is perfect for a fresher and fruitier flavor. Combine your chosen fruit, sugar, and room temperature water and blend it. Strain and you’ve got a fruity syrup. If it’s a richer, fruit jam-like flavor that you prefer, then you’ve got to “cook” the fruit in water and sugar. An alternative is to blend the fruit with sugar and hot water before straining it.
It’s also easy to infuse vegetables like carrots, ginger, beets, and rhubarb in simple syrup. The process is almost the same as in infusing the syrup with fruits. You can cook the veggies together with the sugar and water or blend them before straining.
A simple syrup is a very versatile solution to many of your drinks and dishes that require a hint of sweetness. It’s very easy to make. A 5-year old kid will never ask you how to make simple syrup because he or she already knows how.
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