Monday, August 19, 2013

Simple Syrups, Simplified

Thyme-infused Simple Syrup
Note: Brownish color from raw sugar.

Simple syrup, quite simply, is liquid sugar. It's great to use in cocktails, iced tea, or coffee drinks. It dissolves easily; giving you blendable sweetness, without the granular texture of sugar.

You can buy it, but it's easy to make at home (and, cheaper). Just remember the 1:1 ratio - equal parts sugar & water. It lasts up to 2-4 weeks in the fridge. I make just enough for each time I need it, but you can always make more and store it for future use. 

Basic Recipe

1/2 cup
1/2 granulated sugar

Combine ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool. Strain, if desired.
Tip: I like to put the finished syrup in a mason jar (since these containers can tolerate hot temps) and stick in fridge or freezer to speed up chilling time. 

Now that you know the basics, let's add some interesting flavors...

Thyme Simple Syrup

Method #1 (Boil): Follow basic recipe, adding in one bunch of fresh thyme (6-8 sprigs) with sugar & water to boil. Strain before use. Tip: You can tie herbs together with twine so you can pick out easier when done.
Method #2 (Steep): Reduce heat to barely simmer, add herbs to steep in very hot mixture (not boiling) for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep longer, if desired. (Technique from Clique Vodka)

Mint Simple Syrup

Use Method 1 or 2. Follow basic recipe, add in one bunch fresh mint (spearmint preferred). Strain before use.   

Lemon Simple Syrup

Method 2: Follow basic recipe. Remove syrup from heat, stir in fresh juice (zest, optional) from one lemon. Strain, if desired. 
Note: You're supposed to wait until the syrup is cooled completely before adding lemon. But, I like to cut this corner to save time.

Ginger Simple Syrup

Method 1: Follow basic recipe, adding 4-in fresh ginger, peeled and cut in 1/4" pieces. I was inspired by Giada's Ginger-Peach Beer Cooler recipe

Lavender Thyme Simple Syrup

Method 1 and 2: Follow basic recipe, adding in one bunch of fresh thyme with 2 teaspoons of dried lavender. When done, remove off heat and steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain before use. (Original recipe from Chow)

Pink Peppercorn Simple Syrup

Method 1: Since this is a spicy syrup that will be used sparingly, reduce portion to 1/4 sugar & water. Add in 2 teaspoons of pink peppercorns. Strain before use. 
You can make this more savory and complex by adding in 1 bay leaf and/or 2-3 cinnamon sticks.
Try these pink peppercorn cocktail recipes from Imbibe Magazine.

Kumquat Simple Syrup

Method 1: Bring 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 4-5 oz (or 20) kumquats to boil, sliced and seeded). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Strain liquid for syrup. Keep candied kumquats for other use. (Recipe from Garden of Eating)
Note: I introduced a mandarinquat version in a previous blog entry. Kumquat whiskey sour recipes: fresh version & candied version

What other simple syrups do you like to make?

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