Simple syrup is a basic ingredient for all kinds of good stuff: cocktails, lemonade, iced coffee, and more. Because it is sugar that has been dissolved in water, it’s especially handy for drinks, as opposed to granulated sugar, which doesn’t dissolve in cold beverages. It’s also just like it sounds: simple to make, although you can dress it up with all kinds of delicious flavorings. I’ll walk you through the process below.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
» 1 part water (e.g., 1 cup)
» 1 part sugar (e.g., 1 cup)
» optional flavorings to taste: orange peel, vanilla beans, coffee beans, mint leaves, toasted nuts, dried berries, etc.
WHAT TO DO
Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. In the photo below, I have just added the sugar to the water, and you can clearly see the two separate ingredients.
Keep heating until the sugar fully dissolves and the mixture is clear (10 to 15 minutes). If you're not adding flavorings, your syrup is ready when you can no longer see sugar granules. Store it in the fridge for up to 1 month. Or, if you’re adding flavorings, do so now. (See how the water underneath the orange peel in that photo below is clear? Whether or not you're adding flavoring, that's what you want your mixture to look like!)
Stir frequently. When the syrup has changed color (for example, light yellow if you're making orange syrup) and has reduced by about a quarter (after 30 minutes or so), it’s done—although you can continue cooking it down further to avoid watering down any beverages you’ll eventually add it to.
When it has reached your desired consistency and flavor, strain it, let it cool for 15 minutes or so, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
SO, YOU'VE GOT SIMPLE SYRUP. NOW WHAT?
• Jennifer passes along a cocktail recipe for a bee's knees.
• And another for the simplest—and most delicious—margarita ever.
• Tamika shares a gorgeous photo and directions for replicating her homemade limoncello.
• Cynthia uses homemade syrup and orange peel to flavor her kefir.
Got a question for Cynthia or a recipe to share that calls for simple syrup? Post your comments below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in the Homemade Extracts 101 (think vanilla, peppermint, almond, etc.), Homemade Horchata 101, Apple Molasses 101, or Cynthia’s Homemade Chocolate Syrup 101. And don’t miss Cynthia’s 101s on smart ways to use bacon grease, apples, and stale bread, or on making bone broth, crafting tote bags from t-shirts, roasting coffee, and brewing dandelion coffee. You can always find more things to make, craft, plant, grow, cook, preserve, and flavor in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.