A simple syrup is the simplest thing you can make, besides boiling water. In fact, it’s not much different than boiling water. These simple syrups are used to sweeten cocktails, even when they are cold, as you don’t have to worry with granulated sugar dissolving. But there are other tricks you can use simple syrup for. Like, you know when you get those really super moist cakes, and you fret that you can never bake a cake like that? Trick: Brush a bit of simple syrup on top of the cake layers, once they are cooled. You like your iced tea sweeten but the rest of the family likes it unsweetened? Simple syrup to the rescue. You can make it easily and store it in the fridge for months to use to instantly sweeten cold drinks.
So, a simple syrup is nothing more than sugar and water boiled together. The ratio of sugar to water you use depends on how you plan to use your syrup. They are all made the same only with less or more sugar, which makes thin, medium, or thick syrups.
For glazing cakes and cookies, like I mentioned above, you want a thin syrup. If you need a syrup to stir into cold beverages like iced tea, or iced coffee, etc. you want a medium syrup. If you are making cold cocktails mixed with ice, you want a thick syrup, which is what most bartenders use, although some might use a medium one. There is no need to give a different recipe for each one, you only need to know the ratio of water to sugar for each thickness.
- Thin Syrup for Glazing: 3 parts water to 1 part sugar, e.g. 3 cups water and 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar, etc.
- Medium Syrup for General Beverage Sweetening: This is the most common and versatile one and you can use it in your own, less than professional cocktails when you’re not using a shaker. 2 parts water to 1 part sugar, e.g. 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar, etc.
- Thick Syrup for Making Icy Cold Cocktails: This would be used to “candy” different things as well, such as in candying fruits. 1 part water to 1 part sugar, e.g. 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar.
There are other ratios that are used by various different people for various different reasons, but these will serve you for the most common needs. Before we get to the recipe, you should know that the syrup is just the basis for a whole world of possibilities. You can flavor the syrup with all sort of things so that your syrup will imbue your beverage or cake with whatever awesome flavor you can imagine.
Simply Simple Syrup Instructions
Chose the amount of syrup you want to make, and the thickness of syrup you need to determine the amount of cold water and granulated sugar you need.
Place the cold water in a saucepan that is large enough and high-sided enough to contain the amount of syrup you want to make. Place the cold water and sugar in the pan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to simmer and continue stirring gently until the sugar is dissolved about 3 to 5 minutes. The more you cook the syrup, the thicker it will get but no more than 5 minutes should be needed.
Allow the syrup to cool before pouring it into a glass container that can be tightly sealed. You can store your syrup in the fridge for at least six months.
After you turn the heat off and start to cool your syrup is when you want to add flavor, if desired. What you are doing is essentially steeping the ingredient in the hot syrup as if you are making a tea. You can add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest, etc. Or, mint leaves (Mint Juleps!), basil leaves or any herb you like. You can try ginger root. Or you can place a split vanilla bean into the syrup for an awesome vanilla syrup. Try that in Coca Cola! Any kind of fruit can be used, pretty much.
Remember you will want to be able to remove the steeped ingredients afterwards, so make sure that you use largish chunks. Don’t put a powder or anything that can not be easily stained out with a wire mesh strainer. Steep the flavoring in the syrup, while it is cooling for 20 to 30 minutes. For a more intense flavor, you might want to continue heating the syrup while steeping. But keep in mind that such continued heating can often result in a over-infused syrup (or tea) with undesirable flavors. In any case, once your syrup is cool, strain through a wire mesh strainer into the container you are going to store the syrup in. Store in the refrigerator.
You can use your simple syrup to make homemade chocolate Syrup like Hersheys.