Simple Syrup Really IS Simple

5 Feb
Why would you EVER buy this stuff?!

Why would you EVER buy this stuff?!

This will be a short-ish post today, because I am Florence Nightingaling The Beloved after The Extraction.  Honestly, the whole thing was kind of a let down.  Things went very smoothly.  Which is great for him, don’t get me wrong.  But there have been no facebook-worthy moments.  I didn’t even take any pictures at all.  Sigh.  But, on the bright side, there is pudding and homemade tomato soup!

‘Member that post a few days ago about the Puzzle Sugar?  I listed a bunch of over-priced items that you could either make yourself or get for a lot less.  Simple syrup was on that list.  I got to thinking today, as The Beloved was convalescing in the bedroom, that it really might be the very height of either stupidity on the part of the consumer or sheer audacity on the part of the manufacturers.  What a racket!  I’m sure that manufacturers have made out like bandits, and certainly some duped consumers have felt smugly pleased with themselves as they pour this Elixir of the Gods into their martini creations.

Because I am thorough and also enjoy pointing out wasteful spending, I went to Google Shopping and typed in “simple syrup.”  Just to see what would happen.  What I thought would happen was that there would be a few hundred simple syrups on the market and that most of them would be for sale for well under $10 a bottle. This is what really happened:  in 0.13 seconds, Google went forth and gathered up all the simple syrup that is for sale on the Hinternet, brought it back and arranged it before me.  Guess how many bottles?  FIVE THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED, TWENTY-SIX!  Friends, that’s a lot of bottles. The Google Shopping bots went even further for me.  They kindly arranged them in price tiers: Under $3, $3-$4, $4-$9, $9-$30 and over $30! Seriously?!  So, I had to go see why I should spend thirty bucks on sugar and water.  To be fair, most of it is made for use in the pharmaceutical industry.  I guess they take Mary Poppins’ motto about a spoonful of sugar Very Seriously.  (Happy Anniversary, Mary Poppins). At any rate, you can buy some for $2008.56, if you’re interested.  I only hope that it comes in a container the size of a swimming pool and that the sugar is refined through a fine net woven from the hair of virginal mermaids.  By sylphs.  Who are left handed.

Then, I decided to see what my $9-$30 would get me.  Monin will sell me 1000ml of “Pure Cane Simple Syrup” for the low, low price of just $9.00.  Yay!  But wait!  There’s more!  My friends from the Sonoma Syrup Company–the ones who make my favorite vanilla extract–offer up Classic Simple Syrup.  It’s better than “Pure Cane Simple Syrup,” because it contains “just a hint of vanilla,” and can be yours for a mere $14.95! Oh, for shame, beloved Sonoma Syrup Company.

Let’s do the math, shall we?  If I want to make 1000ml of simple syrup, I’ll need 500ml of sugar.  That equals $0.74.  I know, because I cross-multiplied and then divided for you.  Now, I’m no genius, but I’m pretty sure that $0.74 is less than $9.00.  Because I am sure that the lure of expensive vanilla-scented simple syrup is strong, I will let you in on a secret.  If you add some vanilla extract to simple syrup, you will have vanilla simple syrup. I know; it boggles the mind, right?

Here are some other ways to flavor up your simple syrups.

  • Boil the water and sugar with some citrus zest.  Leave the zest in there to steep for several hours or for up to two days, then strain.
  • Do the same thing with mint leaves, lemon verbena leaves, some lavender flowers (go easy, or it will taste like soap) or even cilantro, basil or rosemary.  Use your imagination.  Ooh!  Cucumber!
  • Try steeping some cinnamon stick, star anise, used and washed vanilla beans or all spice berries.
  • Cut up some fresh ginger for ginger simple syrup.
  • How about using some coffee beans or cocoa nibs?
  • Maybe some habanero or jalapeno pepper would be interesting.
  • Add any kind of extract or emulsion that you’d like.

You can keep your simple syrup, flavored or otherwise, safely in the refrigerator for a week or two.

Anyway, the point is, there is no need to spend a ton of money on sugar and water in a bottle.   Unless you want to.  I can’t stop you, of course, but I might stand at the door of the store and taunt you as you make your purchase.  I’m just saying.

10 Responses to “Simple Syrup Really IS Simple”

  1. vbright February 5, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    As always, enjoyed your blog post. I never realized syrup was so easy!

  2. Chris February 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    I’m proud to say I’ve never spent money on simple syrup. But in a way that’s meaningless because I’ve never used simple syrup either. Can you suggest any usages other than the obvious drizzle-into-mouth technique?

  3. Daily Spud February 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    That syrup for $2000 wasn’t called the Emperor’s New Syrup, by any chance?

  4. Drew Kime February 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Actually you can keep it way past a week if you keep it sealed tightly. The biggest problem is it can crystallize, which is annoying if you’re in a hurry when you notice it. If you *not* in a hurry, you just place your bottle — with the top off — in a small pan half filled with water on the stove at low until the sugar re-melts.

    Next time you’re in your grocery store, check the ethnic foods aisle. (If you live in Kansas, no, Vermont cheese does not count as ethnic.) Look for what looks like wine bottles, but with pictures of fruit on the front. Brand names will be Adriatic, or Piku, or a few others I can’t remember. These are from Slovenia or a few other places nearby, and they’re simple syrup made with sugar and fruit. That’s it, two ingredients. The Sour Cherry flavor, which isn’t sour at all, makes the best slushies in the entire world. And the lemon makes the bestest lemonade.

  5. Chef Keem February 5, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    Just dropping in to let you know how much I enjoy reading your posts, every once in a while. I simply MAKE the time. You’re so worth it. You’re such an entertaining and knowledgeable writer, Jenni.

  6. Erika February 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    Your math skills clearly trump mine.

    I have some simple syrup in my refrigerator now, actually. It has been playing well with the Meyer lemons that keep falling off my trees because they are so heavy with juice that they can’t seem to stay attached. Rarely have I drunk lemonade so many days in a row. I love winter in southern California!

  7. Reluctant Gourmet February 6, 2009 at 5:29 am #

    This post is fascinating. Great investigative reporting. “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Mr. George Hull, of Binghamton, New York not P. T. Barnum.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. …Makes Me Furious » Blog Archive » Simple Syrup Really is Simple « Pastry Methods and Techniques - February 8, 2009

    […] Because I am thorough and also enjoy pointing out wasteful spending, I went to Google Shopping and typed in “simple syrup.” Just to see what would happen. What I thought would happen was that there would be a few hundred simple syrups …More […]

  2. Sour Mix, Anyone? « Pastry Methods and Techniques - February 17, 2009

    […] List.”  Today’s target?  Sour mix.  Sour mix is a mixture of simple syrup (that we already know not to purchase) and citrus juice.  You blend them together until you get the perfect balance of sweet and […]

  3. “Why Not a Vegetable Sorbet?” I Ask You. And, of Course, You Love the Idea. Right? « Pastry Methods and Techniques - April 21, 2009

    […] simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water) […]

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