Sugar syrup is an incredibly versatile ingredient for not only home cooking, but home bartending as well. It forms a natural, non-alcoholic sweetener for a multitude of drinks and is an important addition to many classic cocktails such as the Daiquiri. Coffee lovers should also consider keeping a bottle in their cupboard; it adds very well to long coffees. Sugar syrups can come in different strengths; the two most popular are 1:1 and 2:1. 1:1 is equal parts sugar to water (i.e. a cup of each). 2:1 makes for much thicker syrup; two parts sugar to one part water.
If you are short on time, you can buy ready-made sugar syrup but it obviously costs a lot more than simply buying a bag of sugar and doing it yourself. A 70cl bottle of Monin Gomme (a 2:1 formula) costs about £6 or $9. It really isn’t worth it.
I personally feel that 2:1 is more useful in most things I make. To create your own, you need the following:
♦ Water (filtered is best)
♦ White granulated sugar (twice as much as water)
♦ Plastic / glass bottle (sealable)
To make the syrup, simply heat up the water in a pan on a hob (medium heat) and add in the sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved; as you do this, you’ll notice the liquid will become thicker and form the syrupy texture. Stir constantly, and let the syrup come to the boil.
*Note: boiling hot sugar syrup is very dangerous; if spilt on skin, the thick mixture will stick and burn longer than water- handle with care!*
Once you have clear, smooth and thick syrup, leave it to cool naturally on the countertop. Trying to expedite the cooling process (i.e. refrigerating) can cause the syrup to crystallise. Keeping a plate over the pan will stop contaminants getting in. Once cooled to room temperature, decant the syrup into a bottle and seal.
You can add any number of ‘after market’ ingredients to spice up your syrup. Colouring can give your syrup a ‘theme’, vanilla essence is also good, as is a splash of clear crème de cacao (this is alcoholic though). For some added glitz, add gold leaf! With any of these extras, simply stir in before you bottle up.
Store the syrup in the fridge; it will last a good few months, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll get through it quicker than that!