I have a really hard time making decisions. It drives Trever crazy on those nights when he just wants me to tell him if I would prefer Mexican food (the answer is ALWAYS Mexican food) or burgers. I often just say, “whatever you want, honey.”, and it goes back and forth like the vultures from The Jungle Book.
“Buzzy: Okay. So, what we gonna do?
Flaps: I dunno. What’cha wanna do?
Buzzy: Look, Flaps. First I say, “What we gonna do?” Then you say, “I don’t know. What’cha wanna do?” Then I say, “What we gonna do?” Then you say, “What’cha wanna do?” “What we gonna do? What you want…” Let’s do SOMETHING!!!
Flaps: OK. What’cha wanna do? [Buzzy sighs]
Buzzy: Oh, blimey. There you go again, the same notes again!
Ziggy: [Snaps his fingers] I’ve got it! This time, I’ve really got it!
Buzzy: Okay, you got it. So what are we gonna do?
I’m especially terrible at this when it comes to ordering cocktails. I most often make it dealer’s choice and tell the waiter to surprise me – which turns out pretty well . . . 90% of the time. . .
What is Simple Syrup?
Have you ever tried to stir sugar into a cold drink like tea, iced coffee, or a cocktail? It just doesn’t quite work, right? You go to take a sip and either it isn’t sweetened at all, or you are drinking straight granulated sugar from the bottom of the glass. Simple syrup is how to fix that! Simple syrup is a combination of sugar and water that is boiled until the sugar is dissolved. It can also be made without the addition of heat by simply shaking together the sugar and water vigorously until the sugar dissolves. This way usually takes more time, but it can be very helpful for building muscles (at the expense of looking like a shakeweight).
Ways to Use Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is a very useful tool to keep in your arsenal. It doesn’t take long to make, but can be used in many aspects of cooking.
- Drinks: like sweet tea, iced coffee, or lemonade
- Cocktails: like mojitos or lemon drops
- Sorbets: like lime or cotton candy
- Cakes: for brushing on top of sponge cakes to prevent drying
- Marinades: like a sweet soy, or sweet balsamic onion marinade
- Candying: like with fruit peels or nuts
- Fruit Salad: like a vanilla-orange dressing
- Soda: like homemade ginger-ale or rhubarb
- Glazes: like on doughnuts or scones
- Popsicles: for mixing with puréed fruit
- Poaching: like bourbon peaches or cinnamon pears
- Vinaigrettes: for when it needs something sweet to balance the acid
Different Kinds Of Simple Syrup
When measuring for simple syrup, you always want to use equal parts of liquid to sugar. That is most commonly done by measuring volume with measuring cups, but if you want to be as precise as possible (or you are using an ingredient that can be manipulated, such as brown sugar) you will want to use weight.
- Basic. This is the most common method of simple syrup and is done with a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar. This one is favored for most things in the U.S. and is quite sweet.
- Rich. This one is an extra thick and extra sweet simple syrup that is made by using 2:1 ratio, adding more sugar than water. This one isn’t used often, but packs a lot of punch.
- Medium. This one is done doing a 2:1 ratio, using more water than sugar. This one is less sweet than the basic simple syrup and is favored more often in the U.K. It is my favorite for making sweet tea.
- Light (thin). This one is done using a 3:1 ratio of water to sugar. It has just a hint of sweetness to it and is most likely to be used for sealing cakes so they don’t get dry.
Depending on who you talk to (bartender vs. cook, usually) rich and basic simple syrups are considered the same thing – a 1:1 ratio, instead of the 2:1. If you’re not sure which to use, stick with the basic 1:1, you can always add more if it needs further sweetening.
Flavored & Infused Simple Syrups
It is incredibly simple to make flavored simple syrups. In order to flavor or infuse simple syrups, just remove the syrup from the heat and add in your roughly chopped flavoring agent – then let it set for at least 30 minutes. The stronger the flavor and structure, the less time it needs to sit – spices and vegetables, for example. If your flavoring agent is more delicate and lighter in flavor, like herbs or some fruits, it may need to sit for up to two hours. Taste your simple syrup after 30 minutes to see if your infused flavor is strong enough. Strain out the flavoring agent, put your syrup in a tightly sealed jar, and store. Easy, right? Some example of flavors and combos you could do include:
- strawberry & basil
- sour cherry
- cardamom & anise
- rosemary & lemon
- beet & cinnamon
- blackberry & black pepper
- cucumber & lime
Storing Simple Syrup
To store your simple syrup after you have let it cool, place it in an air-tight jar in the fridge.
Sugar is used as a preserving agent in many things, like jams and jellies. Just the same, the sugar in simple syrup helps prolong its shelf-life, but it’s shelf-life is still shorter than most people would think. Simple syrup easily picks up the flavors of the fridge, and believe it or not, can mold, just like any other food, so only store it for up to one month. Make sure to write the date of the day you made it somewhere on the jar (I usually use a piece of masking tape on the bottom), so you know when it is time to throw it out.
How to Make Simple Syrup
Troubleshooting Simple Syrup
Do you play drink roulette? What is your favorite way to use simple syrup?
Tell me in the comments or show me on social media – @foodabovegold
Happy Cooking! 🙂