Why buy simple syrup when you can make your own at home? Learn how to make this artisanal strawberry simple for summer and never spend a dime on store-bought syrup again.
MAKING SIMPLE SYRUP FROM SCRATCH
Flavoured simple syrups are just about the easiest thing in the world to make.
If you can boil water, you can make a simple syrup!
If you can make a simple syrup, then you can make a flavoured simple syrup.
The worst that can happen is that you forget your pot on the stove and return to a burnt caramel mess.
That won’t happen because we always remember to put on a timer, right? Right.
Simple syrup is so easy to make that it’s even in its name.
A SIMPLE SYRUP TUTORIAL VIDEO
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I FEEL GUILTY FOR WRITING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE SIMPLE SYRUP
In my head, everyone knows how to make simple syrup, but that’s because I come from a baking background.
In the baking world, everyone really does know how to make a simple syrup.
However, logic tells me that if everyone knew how to make their own syrups, there wouldn’t be a market for commercial syrups.
I even came close to starting up a syrup business of my own a few years ago!
JAIL BIRD SYRUPS
That was the name of the syrup business that never launched.
My business partner and I were passionate about this endeavour.
We spent hours brainstorming flavours and testing, testing, testing.
Because in addition to putting on a timer, we also always remember to taste, right?
Anyhow, life got in the way and Jail Bird Syrups became a warm distant memory of having an abundance of vanilla cardamom syrup in the fridge to add to my lattes.
So you see, I kind of had to write a post about syrups. It’s almost like an homage.
WHY MAKE SIMPLE SYRUP WHEN I CAN BUY IT?
First off, there are a lot of syrups out there that are rubbish.
If we look at the ingredients of a popular brand that millions of vanilla lattes get made with every year, this is what we see:
Potassium sorbate (preservative)
Citric acid (preservative)
DID YOU NOTICE SOMETHING?
The vanilla syrup doesn’t even have any vanilla in it!
How sad is that?
Why are we hooked on products that aren’t even real?
This isn’t to say that all syrups are like this.
In addition to natural flavours, a competing brand actually has vanilla extract in its syrup.
Artisanal vanilla syrups, on the other hand, are made with real ingredients–not just extracts–but they come with a higher price tag.
I’d rather just make my own at home.
THE BEAUTY OF SMALL BATCHES
If you’ve ever bought a bottle of flavoured syrup, let me ask you this: how long did it take you to get through it?
Did you ever finish it?
I have been guilty of buying commercial syrups in the past and in the end, most of it was disposed of.
When you make your own syrup, you have full control over how much you make.
The benefit of a small batch is that it allows you to minimize waste and save yourself a few bucks.
Moreover, I don’t use preservatives when I make syrups, so small batches are key.
Without the potassium sorbate and citric acid, classic simple syrup lasts for about a month in the fridge, and if it’s flavoured, a couple of weeks.
FLAVOURED SIMPLE SYRUPS IN FIVE STEPS
Measure equal parts of sugar and water.
Add flavourings (see below).
Boil for five minutes, or until all the sugar dissolves.
Strain, or let it steep as it cools if you want a stronger flavour.
Transfer to a mason jar and refrigerate once the syrup has completely cooled.
IDEAS FOR FLAVOURED SIMPLE SYRUPS
Strawberry: In the above video tutorial, I added the same ratio of fresh strawberries to the sugar and water.
Since I had a near-empty bottle of Fragoli liqueur on hand, I finished it off (there was only an ounce left) with the accompanying alcohol-soaked berries.
As an added bonus, after I strained my syrup, I reserved the berries and put them on my fluffy boy pancakes the next day. It was heavenly.
Raspberry: Same thing as above. Add the same ratio of fresh raspberries to water and sugar ie. one cup of each. You will get a beautiful ruby colour and a sweet, tart taste.
Vanilla Cardamom: Going with a one-cup ratio of water and sugar, add one vanilla bean and two teaspoons of dry cardamom seeds (crack open the pods).
And don’t throw out that vanilla bean when you’re done! Toss it into a container and add sugar to make your own vanilla sugar from scratch.
Grenadine: Yes! You can make your own Shirley Temples and Tequila Sunrises from here on out!
Unless you have access to a pomegranate tree and bottle your own pomegranate juice, I recommend picking up a bottle of POM Wonderful and sub that in for the water.
You still need equal parts of sugar and water, but I usually divvy the sugar measurement up and do 2/3 regular sugar and 1/3 glucose because homemade grenadine will start crystallizing after two weeks without preservatives or an inverted sugar (like honey or glucose).
Add an ounce of vodka at the very end, and after it’s cooled, two or three dashes of orange blossom water.
PLAY AROUND AND EXPERIMENT WITH FLAVOURED SIMPLE SYRUPS
I could go on and on with variations. There are lemon and coffee, mango and peppermint, for example.
If you didn’t know how to make syrups before this post, I hope I’ve given you the courage to go out and try making your own.
As long as you remember the even ratio of water to sugar, you’re all set.
Play around with fruit, spices, and herbs.
Put a twist on a syrup by pouring in a shot of alcohol: Kirsch really jazzes up a cherry syrup!
A NOTE ON SUGAR
I’m not the biggest fan of white sugar and use raw organic sugar wherever I can.
If you want to slow down the crystallization process, an inverted sugar like glucose will help.
Honey, another inverted sugar, can be used in syrups, but due to its strong flavour, it’s best reserved for syrups that will benefit from its distinct taste, such as ginger.
Healthier alternatives, like coconut palm sugar, share a similar fate. Their strong flavours tend to overpower all others. Experiment. That’s all I can say.
DIFFERENT USES FOR FLAVOURED SIMPLE SYRUPS
Flavouring whipped cream
Iced teas and lemonade
Marinades and glazes
Soaking and glazing cakes. Genoise sponge cake, for example, is thirsty for simple syrup.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,
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