Are you tired of your simple syrup going bad before you can use it all up?
Fear not, because we have some tips and tricks to help you make shelf stable simple syrup that will last longer without spoiling.
Whether you’re a professional bartender or just someone who enjoys a good cocktail at home, having a reliable and long-lasting simple syrup on hand can make all the difference in your drink-making experience.
In this article, we’ll explore different methods for making shelf stable simple syrup and provide some helpful tips to ensure your syrup stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.
So, let’s get started!
How To Make Shelf Stable Simple Syrup?
There are several ways to make shelf stable simple syrup, but the key is to reduce the water availability to microorganisms that can cause spoilage. Here are some methods you can try:
1. Increase the sugar level: Higher sugar levels reduce water availability to microorganisms. Bring your sugar level (brix) up to at least 50. That means equal parts sugar and water by weight (not by volume).
2. Add alcohol: Adding 15% or so of alcohol helps work as a preservative environment; the higher the better. Note that alcohol at this level will not sterilize the syrup, merely extend its lifespan.
3. Strain syrups well: Homogeneous environments are best. Chunks are bad.
4. Use Campden tablets: These kill bacteria and are used to sterilize wine/beer to stop further fermentation.
5. Pasteurize the syrup: Bring it to 186 degrees for 6 seconds, or bring it to 140 degrees for 10 minutes. There are charts on how to pasteurize acidified products all over the internet.
6. Hot fill: While the liquid is at least 120 degrees, fill the bottle, cap it and invert it for at least two minutes. As the liquid cools, it shrinks (hot liquids fill more volume than cold liquids), creating some negative pressure.
7. Invert syrup: Make an invert syrup rather than adding sugar to water cold. Invert the syrup by holding at 240 degrees. The addition of a little cream of tartar (or, barring that, a little lemon juice for the citric acid) will help split the sugars to invert.
Understanding Simple Syrup And Its Shelf Life
Simple syrup is a sugar-water mixture commonly used in cocktails, desserts, and other recipes. While it has a decent shelf life when prepared and stored properly, it is not indefinite. The shelf life of simple syrup can be affected by several factors, including the sugar-to-water ratio, the presence of microorganisms, and the storage conditions.
Simple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water will only stay good for about a month when stored in the refrigerator. However, increasing the sugar level to at least 50 brix or adding alcohol can help extend its lifespan. Straining the syrup well and using Campden tablets or pasteurization can also help prevent spoilage.
Cold-process syrups can become moldy in as little as two weeks, while hot-process syrups should last up to a month in the refrigerator. Syrups made with honey, rosemary, cinnamon, or monk fruit can also be stored in the freezer to make them last longer.
It is important to note that even with these methods, simple syrup does not have an indefinite shelf life. It is recommended to make only quantities that you’re likely to use within a reasonable time frame and to discard any syrup that shows signs of spoilage, such as mold or an off smell. By understanding simple syrup and its shelf life, you can ensure that your recipes are safe and delicious.
The Importance Of Proper Storage
Proper storage is essential for maintaining the shelf life of simple syrup. After opening, simple syrup can last anywhere between one to six months depending on the method of preparation and storage conditions. To ensure that your simple syrup remains fresh for as long as possible, it is important to store it properly.
Firstly, make sure to store your simple syrup in an airtight container to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help reduce the growth of bacteria and mold. Additionally, keep the container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat. Exposure to light and heat can cause the syrup to spoil more quickly.
It is also important to check the syrup before each use to make sure it is still safe to consume. If you notice any off-odors or discoloration, discard the syrup immediately.
If you want to extend the shelf life of your simple syrup even further, consider using one of the methods mentioned above such as increasing the sugar level or adding alcohol. However, it is important to note that these methods may alter the flavor and consistency of your syrup. Ultimately, proper storage is key to keeping your simple syrup fresh and safe for consumption.
Using Alternative Sweeteners For Shelf Stable Simple Syrup
For those who want to make shelf stable simple syrup using alternative sweeteners, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, not all sweeteners will work for this process. Some sweeteners, such as honey or molasses, can last for several months but may not be suitable for those on a low-carb or sugar-free diet.
One alternative sweetener that works well for making shelf stable simple syrup is erythritol. To make a sugar-free erythritol simple syrup, combine distilled water and erythritol in a saucepan and add xanthan gum to thicken the mixture. Sweet drops can be added to increase the sweetness without imparting a bitter aftertaste. This sugar-free erythritol simple syrup lasts indefinitely and will not crystallize.
Another alternative sweetener that can be used is stevia. Stevia is a zero calorie, plant-based sweetener that is many times as sweet as sugar. To make a Stevia Syrup, combine powdered stevia and water in a small saucepan and let simmer until stevia has completely dissolved. Once cool, place in a jar and store in the refrigerator to use in drinks and other recipes that call for simple syrup.
When using alternative sweeteners for shelf stable simple syrup, it’s important to keep in mind that the consistency may not be as thick as traditional simple syrup made with granulated sugar. Also, adding a little vodka or alcohol can help extend the shelf life of the syrup.
Infusing Flavor Into Shelf Stable Simple Syrup
While a basic simple syrup is a favorite of bartenders all over the world, adding different flavors can seriously elevate a recipe. Infusing a simple syrup with flavor is just as easy as making the syrup itself. To infuse a simple syrup with flavor, make the syrup as usual, then add your flavor of choice once the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let the ingredient steep for 30 minutes. Once steeped, taste the syrup for intensity. If you like the flavor, strain out the additions through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. If you don’t have those, you can scoop it out with a slotted spoon, but small bits may linger in your syrup. Then store it in an airtight container for up to a month.
When infusing herbs into a syrup, steep them in boiling water first to extract oils and all the flavor compounds. Steep for about four to five minutes, strain and add sugar at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. Fruits like apples or berries will yield a different flavor profile depending on the use of hot or room temperature water (think cooked versus fresh apples). If you want a fresher flavor, use room temperature water and simply blitz it up with fruit and sugar in a blender and then strain it. This method will provide a whole lot of intensity without compromising the brightness of the fruit. Likewise, if you want a richer, stewed fruit flavor effect (think jam), cook the fruit, sugar and water on the stove. Or repeat the same process as above and blend together the hot water, fruit and sugar in a blender and then strain it.
Vegetables such as rhubarb, carrot, beet or ginger work well in syrups too. When working with carrot, use the pulp left over from juicing and blend it with sugar and water (2:1) before straining and bottling it. Tea is also an excellent ingredient to infuse syrups with; it’s quick and easy to add flavor to a drink. All tea can be infused in both cold and hot water. Cold infusion over 12 to 24 hours will yield a mellower and rounder profile as colder water will extract less tannin than a hot water brew. Remember that sugar is harder to dissolve in cold water and may need some additional agitation to fully integrate.
By using any of these methods to infuse flavors into shelf stable simple syrup, you can create signature cocktails that can’t always be replicated with brand-name bottles. Infused syrups allow bars to make something “bespoke” with leftover ingredients from their kitchen, which is cheaper than paying for premade commercial offerings. Making an infused spirit or syrup is like making tea – add your favorite ingredients to a liquid and let them steep.
Creative Ways To Use Shelf Stable Simple Syrup
Now that you have learned how to make shelf stable simple syrup, let’s explore some creative ways to use it in your cooking and beverage creations:
1. Cocktail mixer: Shelf stable simple syrup is a favorite of bartenders for a reason. It’s a liquid sugar that dissolves much better into cool liquids than whole sugar, making it perfect for cocktails. You can use a pure simple syrup or an infused one to jazz up your drinks. Try adding a flavored syrup to soda water for a fun new drink, or champagne with juice for a funky new mimosa.
2. Baking: Simple syrup is not just for cocktails, it has long been appreciated by bakers for its ability to keep layer cakes moist. Simply brush the syrup onto the cakes before frosting. But it can also be used to brush on scones, cornbreads, or biscuits for a great new flavor.
3. Glaze vegetables and fruits: Shelf stable simple syrup can be used to glaze veggies like carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes or brussel sprouts with a ginger, thyme, or lemon simple syrup. Or go with fruits for a yummy fresh dessert like cinnamon glazed peaches. It can even be used as part or all of a poaching liquid for fruits.
4. Sauces: Use shelf stable simple syrup in your vinaigrettes, yogurt sauces, or glazes for savory meats like orange glazed chicken or ginger glazed pork chops. You can also use it as a lovely drizzle over an ice cream or parfait.
5. Marinades: Replace sugars in marinades with an infused shelf stable simple syrup for a wonderful spin on classic combos. Basil with a fresh citrus marinade, or ginger with soy sauce can add new flavors to your dishes.
6. Whipped cream: You can use shelf stable simple syrup in your whipped creams to give them an extra touch of sweetness and flavor.
7. Pancakes and waffles: Use shelf stable simple syrup as a drizzle on pancakes and waffles instead of maple syrup for a change of pace.
There are so many ways that you can incorporate shelf stable simple syrup into your cooking and beverage creations. Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find what works best for you. With the right preparation and storage techniques, you can enjoy the benefits of shelf stable simple syrup for months to come.