Simple syrup. It’s not a misnomer. Honestly, it’s the simplest syrup there is.
It’s a baby step up from boiled water, basically. People, you don’t even need to stir. (Although it won’t kill you to stir.)
To recap, here's how to make a basic one-to-one simple syrup, with one cup of water and one cup of sugar:
1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. You don't have to stir, but it will help the sugar dissolve faster.
2. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly. Then transfer the cooled syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator.
Still unclear? This very short video can help:
So that’s simple syrup at its most basic. Use it to sweeten cocktails, like Watermelon Sangria and The Perfect Mai Tai, or homemade lemonades and other soft drinks; or use it to moisten cakes, candy fruits, and sweeten frozen treats, like snow cones, ice creams, and sorbets, like Peach and Pineapple Sorbet.
Simple Syrup, Simplified
Want simpler than simple? Here’s a quick trick for making small batches of simple syrup on the fly:
Pour a few tablespoons of water into a mug, pop it in the microwave, and nuke until bubbly; then carefully mix the hot water with an equally wee amount of sugar, stir-stir-stirring until dissolved. Such a small amount will cool down fast. Use it for single-serving homemade lemonades or quick cocktails.
But these basic simple syrups are just the beginning.
Variations on the Sweet Life
There are a zillion ways to flavor basic simple syrup. The rules are...no rules. Infuse-away with chipotle peppers, ginger, lemon, lime, lavender, vanilla extract, orange flower, parsley-lemon, rose, eucalyptus. Or try cranberries, jalapenos, toffee, mint, rosemary, green tea, cardamom, brandy, rum, bananas, basil…see what we mean?
Here are some favorites:
This fresh berry syrup is the one you want for making delicious, refreshing strawberry soda, lemonade, or tea. Incredible mixed with club soda for an old-fashioned strawberry soda. Ridiculous in sangria.
Danny k says, “This recipe is good for treating colds and flu, and good on anything you’d put syrup on, like waffles, pancakes, or ice cream.” Try it in a French 75.
Denise suggests using this syrup to glaze gingerbread. “For best flavor, poke holes in the cake with a fork before pouring syrup.” It would also be unbeatable in a Hot Toddy. But watch out for bears!
Billy recommends this spiced syrup for “coffee, tea, apple cider, you name it! Use it in whipped cream, or brush it on cakes. Drizzle it on yogurt, oatmeal, or pancakes…the possibilities are endless!”
A sweet thing for your morning cuppa joe. Try it with a latte or add it to apple juice or cider.
CRYSTALSHOE’s fresh-fruit syrup is “great for flavoring ice tea, but can also be used in cocktails, soda, and other drinks.”
A’s for Your Simple Syrup Q’s
How Should I Store It?
Let it cool on the stove, then transfer it to a lidded jar or container and pop it in the fridge.
How Long Does It Keep?
In the fridge, covered, it should last a solid month.
Can I Give It as a Gift?
Great idea. The answer is YES. Maybe pour a fancy infused syrup into a nice bottle with a pretty little personalized label.
Is It for the Birds?
Why yes. It’s also a fancy feast for hungry hummingbirds in the ’hood.
So, Seriously, What Other Flavorings Are There?
Sky's the limit. If you can think of a flavor that plays well with sweetness, go for it. Here are 6 more to inspire you. And then you're on your own.