There are several thicknesses of simple syrup and they have different uses. Thin simple syrup, a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar, is used to glaze cakes and cookies. Medium simple syrup, a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar, is used to make beverages and sweeten iced tea. And thick simple syrup, a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar, is used to glaze candied fruits and is the basis of cold drinks.
To make simple syrup for beverages:
- Bring 2 cups of plain cold tap water to a boil. Stir in 2 cups of plain granulated sugar. Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely.
- To test if the sugar is completely dissolved, use a metal spoon to scoop up a small bit of the syrup. Tilt it over the pan and watch carefully. You shouldn't be able to see any crystals in the liquid.
- At this point you can add flavorings; add about a tablespoon of any liquid extract. You can also stir in 1 tablespoon corn syrup to help ensure the syrup stays smooth.
- Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
To make beverages, combine one part simple syrup with two parts cold water or sparkling beverage, and add fresh fruit juice to taste. Start with 1 cup fruit juice; you can always add more.