Sugar syrups are sometimes just so incredibly useful. They are also one of those things that you can go your entire culinary career without ever needing to use, until suddenly you do.
There are two main types of sugar syrups that you will see listed as ingredients for baking and cocktails; simple syrup and standard syrup. Both are a mix of sugar and water; Simple Syrup is made of equal amounts of sugar and water (and sometimes referred to as a one-to-one, or 1:1 syrup.) Standard syrup in made with two parts sugar to one part water. This 2:1 mix can be referred to as Rich Simple Syrup in American recipes.
The higher sugar content in Standard Syrup means, unsurprisingly, that it brings more sweetness to a recipe, and is therefore more noticeable. It also means that Standard Syrup has a longer shelf life, with the sugar acting as a natural preservative. Neither syrup lasts indefinitely, however, so it’s probably a good idea to only even make ever-so-slightly more than enough to cover your immediate plans. It’s not as if it will be difficult to make some more should you run out. This syrup really is as simple to make as the name suggests.
Back to storage: if you are planning to make this ahead, it’s best to follow the following tips to keep everything fresh.
Simple Syrup: Find a jar with a tightly fitting/airtight lid to store it in – a jam jar or mason jar will do very well. Wash it well, then sterilise it by filling with boiling water. Pour boiling water over the lid as well. Leave the hot water inside until just before you pour the hot syrup in – hot glass is far less likely to crack than cold. Please, never pour boiling hot liquid into cold glass!
If you are planning on making a Standard Syrup and keeping it for a few months, then take things a step further. Wash your jar and lid well (removing the rubber seal if it has one) and once completely dry, place on a baking tray and place in a low oven (gas mark 1 / 140 C / 275 F) for ten minutes. If using a Kilner jar with a rubber seal, this can be boiled – although if you are boiling the seal you may as well use the boiling method to sterlise the jar as well. Either way, be very careful when handling your heated jars.
Keep your syrups in the fridge. Simple Syrup can be kept for a month, and Standard Syrup for up to six, however both can go mouldy if left out at room temperature. Both can go mouldy in the fridge too, so make sure you make a note of the date you make them and throw them away if you are unsure if they are still good.
It’s usual to measure the sugar and water out by volume when making syrup. I tend to use measuring cups, but you can use a measuring jug just as easily. If you don’t have either then you can weigh the amounts (you won’t end up with quite the same ratio, but this isn’t exactly a science.)
I always use granulated sugar for sugar syrup and reserve my more expensive caster sugar for recipes that require a finer grain, but please use whichever you have to hand.
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
I’m almost embarrassed to write this down, it’s so easy! Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. There’s no need to let the syrup boil – in fact this will reduce the water content and change the ratio of the mix. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and pour into your heated jar.
Once again, please be careful when handling hot syrup! Make sure your jar is standing on a stable surface.
Secure the lid, allow to cool completely, and store in the fridge until needed.