Thursday, April 25, 2013

Using Homemade Simple Syrups in Refreshing Summertime Drinks

In my house, we love plain sparkling water.  Every now and then we also have the taste for more flavoring in the sparkling water, or even a sweet treat for a celebration or occasion.  

Using simple syrups can be a great tool in your cooking and add something special to a refreshing sparkling drink or iced beverage.  What is a simple syrup?  It is when you boil sugar in water at a certain ratio to make a syrup. It can be more appetizing than putting actual granulated sugar in a drink because you don't have to stir and hope the sugar dissolves.  There is no grainy pile of sugar at the bottom of the drink, and you have equivalent sweetness throughout the whole drink. 

A general simple syrup is made with the following ratios:

Thin simple syrup - A ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar - used to glaze cakes and cookies.

Medium simple syrup - A ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar - used to make sweeten beverages and iced tea.

Thick simple syrup (basic simple syrup) - A ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar - This is used as the basis for cold fruit drinks and cocktails. Also used to make candied fruits. 

As you can see, you can adjust the ratios to make the syrup more rich or thick.  Put cold water and the sugar portion into a pan and cook on medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes.  The longer you cook, the thicker the mixture will be.  Cool, put in a container, and store in the refrigerator. 

Simple syrups can be brushed over cakes and cookies to add moisture and sweetness.  They are also added to beverages.  One of the nice things about adding them to beverages is that you control the sweetness of your drink.  When we add a simple syrup to our sparkling water, we can get just a hint of sweetness, or can make more of a drink akin to a soda pop. 

Another great variation is to infuse flavor into the simple syrup.  You can add a cinnamon stick during the cooking process to make a cinnamon infused simple syrup.  We also add sliced fresh ginger and then strain the pieces after the cooking process.  What flavor would you like to infuse?  Be creative and have fun.  It is an easy, healthy,and economical way to enjoy a refreshing summer drink.