When you're reading drink recipes, as you do, they often call for simple syrup.
I'm always surprised by the number of people who still ask me what simple syrup is. When I'm doing demonstrations or sampling for food and beverage events, I end up describing how to make simple syrup more than any other technique. It happens to be one of the basic tools of my trade. So, I'd like to give you all the information you could need to start making your own simple syrup.
Simple syrup is made of equal parts sugar and water.
If you see a recipe that calls for simple syrup 2:1 it's actually referring to heavy syrup, syrup that has double the ratio of sugar to water. For example, a small batch of simple syrup could call for 1 cup sugar & 1 cup water. A 2: 1 heavy syrup would call for 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water.
Why would you need heavy syrup?
Every drink recipe is different, some might call for more sweetness with less liquid. These recipes will use a heavy syrup instead.
Try to imagine that you're baking, one cookie recipe might call for more sugar than another. It will depend on the other ingredients in the cookie, what type of cookie you want to make, how moist it should be and so on.
Think of Simple Syrup as the base recipe from which all other syrup recipes are created.
There is a surprising amount of debate about how to execute this "simple" recipe. Which to me, seems counter to the name. I prefer to heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar, but there are purists who prefer to stir, using friction to create a homogeneous liquid.
I won't deny that sugar is a sensitive ingredient, subtle changes in technique will produce different results. I'll even concede to a detectable flavour and texture difference between stirred and heated. The heated version taking on more caramel flavour and it's a tad thicker. But, I don't think its as overwhelmingly important a difference to start writing recipes where I include instructions for stirred or heated simple syrup.
|From the left; Powdered, Granulated, Quick Dissolve|
I should also point out that they type of sugar will also affect the end result. If I was going to spend my time stirring simple syrup instead of cooking it, I would only do it with instant dissolve sugar. Its grain size is in between granulated sugar and powdered sugar. You might see it labeled as super fine sugar or dink sugar. You will pay a premium for it. As a business owner I shy away from that for obvious reasons and if you plan to cook your syrup, there is no need for it.
I would only use powdered sugar in recipes that call for it specifically, there are many classic recipes that do, but I rarely use it in new recipes. Maybe I should use it more, there is nothing wrong with it, it's just different, sweeter and softer flavour so it's not an equal substitute. The recipe would need to be adjusted slightly to accommodate for the extra sweetness and loss of liquid. Also, without heat it will be cloudy, which is fine, most recipes that call for sugar syrup are shaken, so they will be cloudy anyway.
Brown or demerara sugar is a whole other story, it has a higher moisture content, deeper molasses flavour and and of course will produce a darker syrup. It is very useful in rum drinks. Matching like with like flavours the molasses in the sugar and the rum will easily go together.
|I used a cocktail glass to mold the sugar.|
Simple syrup can then be turned into flavored syrup by using fruit, tea, spices, herbs and other ingredients to create an infinite variety of choices. The method for those is decidedly less simple. Each ingredient requiring a different treatment. Cooking times, temperature and ratio of water will be unique to the type of syrup being made. The method for mint syrup is not the same as one for bacon syrup.
You can see some of the different syrups already on the site;
There was a beautiful rhubarb syrup we made last year, this well be in season again soon.
I love anything with ginger and this Ginger Syrup has gone into both the Coconut Shiver and The Second Coming.
Of course you could try one of the more complicated tonic syrups.
Or, you can just make your first batch of simple syrup and then reward yourself with this easy daiquiri.
1 C sugar
1 C water
In a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, combine both. stir frequently until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and cool. Store in clean glass jar in refrigerator. Keeps well.
Easy Lime Daiquiri
2 oz white rum
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker, fill 3/4 with cracked ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled coup.
Now you don't have to shy away from recipes that call for simple syrup. Questions about syrup? Ask away in the comments below.