Your Go-To, Instant Sweetener

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When you need instant sweetening for your iced tea or your favorite cocktail, simple syrup, sometimes called sugar syrup, does the job. You can also use the syrup as a base for a flavored syrup for soaking cakes or for sweetening and flavoring poached fruit. Candy makers rely on the syrup too, flavoring it to make their candies stand out from the crowd.

This recipe is the classic simple syrup for cocktails and other drinks, rather than for canning. For a thinner, lighter syrup that you might use for poaching fruit, use 3 parts of water to 1 part sugar. For a heavier syrup that gives cocktails a slightly thicker feel, use 1 part water to 2 parts sugar.

Tip

Experiment with different types of sugar for different flavors. Brown sugar; raw turbinado sugar, which has a slight molasses flavor; or sorghum, with a more pronounced molasses flavor, are options.

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1 1/2 cups syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Tip

Substitute superfine sugar for regular sugar to make the sugar dissolve faster.

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, heat the water until it is very hot but not quite boiling. If you allow the water to boil, you'll change the ratio of sugar to water and the thickness of your syrup.
  2. Take the pot off the burner, add the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. 
  3. Allow the syrup to cool before pouring into a glass container and refrigerating it.

Tip

Simple syrup keeps for about one month in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer. Freeze the syrup in an ice cube tray so you can pop out as many cubes as you need to sweeten your pitcher of iced tea or lemonade. Syrup that you've infused with other flavors, such as lavender or basil, have a shorter shelf life in the refrigerator.

Warning

You'll know when your simple syrup has gone bad in the refrigerator because you will see small dark spots, the beginning of mold starting to grow on the surface of the liquid. Toss out this batch and begin with a new one.