The versatility of simple syrup cannot be overstated. The sweetener can be used in drinks, sauces, desserts, jam, sweet treats, and many others. With its profound usefulness and functionality, it’s not so surprising that it runs out so quickly. Instead of constantly making new batches of syrup, making large quantities you can use for longer would be better. With larger quantities, proper preservation becomes essential.
So, does simple syrup have to be refrigerated? Yes, if you want the simple syrup to remaining in good condition for a long time, it must be refrigerated. However, you should note that there are other factors that affect the shelf life and refrigeration.
This article will break down all you need to know about simple syrup and how to properly preserve your syrup so that it lasts for as long as possible.
Table of Contents
What is a Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener made by dissolving sugar in water. Although it’s very commonly used in cocktails and desserts, simple syrup has also been adapted as the basis of many sauces. Simple syrup is traditionally made by dissolving granulated sugar in water. Heat is sometimes applied to help dissolve the sugar granules. Variety can also be added to simple syrup by experimenting with other sweeteners like honey, brown sugar, and more.
Types of Simple Syrup
There are two main forms of simple syrup – the standard syrup and the rich syrup. The standard syrup is made with equal parts of water and sugar, while the rich syrup generally contains twice as much sugar as water.
How Do You Make Simple Syrup?
There are two different ways to make syrup – hot and cold. While each method has its merits and demerits, they are both straightforward.
The Hot Process
If you’re using the hot process, you need some heat to get the process going. Pour your measured quantity of sugar into a measured quantity of water in a saucepan. Put the saucepan over medium heat and boil while stirring continuously. Cut off the heat as soon as the sugar dissolves. Let the syrup cool down, then store it.
The Cold Process
You can also make a simple syrup with room temperature water. This seems to be the preferred method among professional bartenders. While there’s no sufficient argument to support it, there are some who believe the cold process preserves the unique fresh uncooked cane flavor. Measure your water and sugar into a suitable container and stir vigorously until all the sugar particles dissolve and the solution is completely clear.
Does Simple Syrup Need To Be Refrigerated?
It would be best if you store your simple syrup in the refrigerator. Fridges create an atmosphere where the aging of food is slowed down, and the growth of bacteria is discouraged. Refrigeration will extend the shelf life of simple syrup by some. At room temperature, shelf-life drastically reduces, simple syrup is less stable, and it is easier for mold to grow.
How Long Does Simple Syrup Last in the Fridge?
Well-prepared simple syrup can last for up to 3 months when stored in a sterile container and refrigerated. The shelf life of simple syrup is dependent on factors like the ratio of sugar to water, the flavoring ingredients, method of preparation, and storage. The more the sugar content in syrup, the longer the shelf life. Also, flavored syrups generally tend to have a shorter lifespan than plain old simple syrup.
How Do You Store Homemade Simple Syrup?
When storing simple syrup, attention to detail is quite important. It starts from how clean the storing container is to whether it’s airtight or not
- Use an airtight container
- Clean thoroughly
- Fill in the syrup mixture and put it in the refrigerator
How Long Does Simple Syrup Last?
Simple syrup will remain good for only a couple of weeks at room temperature. If stored in an airtight container and refrigerated, simple syrup should remain in good condition for about one month to three months. However, when flavors/fruits are added, you can only keep simple syrup for 1 – 2 weeks.
How Do You Know When Simple Syrup Goes Bad?
When simple syrup goes bad, it begins to get cloudy. Cloudiness in simple syrup is quite unusual, and normal syrup should always be clear. So, when your syrup turns cloudy, it may be a sign that bacteria has started growing. Bad syrup may smell bad when it’s been left for a long time. Crystallization does not necessarily mean that the syrup has gone bad, as it doesn’t pose a major health risk, but it does imply a decline in the quality of the simple syrup.
My Simple Syrup Has Crystallized & Turned Cloudy. Can I Fix It?
The good news is you can mostly fix crystallized simple syrup, but unfortunately, the cloudy syrup cannot be fixed, and you shouldn’t even attempt to do so. Crystallization is what happens when sugar molecules stick together and don’t dissolve. Unfortunately, crystals don’t only form in the initial preparation stage and there’s not much you can do to prevent it.
The remedy to remove crystallization is to heat low and slow. Pour the syrup into a suitable pan and bring heat slowly at a low temperature. Keep an eye on it, but don’t stir as it heats through.
Can Bacteria Grow in Simple Syrup?
While bacteria don’t normally grow in sugar, they may grow in simple syrup. Sugar, in high concentrations, causes bacteria to lose water through osmosis, and without water, bacteria growth is impossible. However, the presence of water in simple syrup may present a semi-conductive environment that allows the growth of bacteria. Cloudiness in your simple syrup could be a sign of bacteria or mold growth. Thankfully, bacteria growth in simple syrup is not very common because the sugar will continually pull water out of bacteria into the syrup.
Does Simple Syrup Spoil?
The simple syrup does go bad. However, longevity depends on several factors. The method of preparation, concentration, and storage are some of those things that come into play regarding the shelf-life of simple syrup.
How Can I Make My Syrup Last Longer?
Simple syrup isn’t something that should be stored for a very long time. However, you can do things on your part to make it last a bit longer. When sealed properly in an airtight container and refrigerated, simple syrup longevity is increased.
How to Serve Simple Syrup?
In addition to how you store your simple syrup, how you serve can prevent or encourage the growth of bacteria. As a general rule, pour your syrup and don’t dip in it. Pour the syrup out of its container, taking care not to touch the tip to the other bottle/jar/container. It would be best to avoid dipping utensils into the syrup as you could easily introduce germs and foreign objects into it. Avoid dipping things into your syrup if you hope to keep your syrup fresh for as long as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do flavored syrups need to be refrigerated?
Flavored syrups generally have a shorter shelf life than regular simple syrup, so it has to be tightly stored and refrigerated at all times to preserve them for as long as possible. When left unrefrigerated, the flavored syrup will only remain good for a few days, but you can extend its lifespan to around two weeks by refrigerating it.
Can syrup be stored at room temperature not exceeding?
Yes, the simple syrup can be stored in a cool, dry place at room temperature. However, the shelf life at room temperature is less than when it is stored in a refrigerator.
Does unopened simple syrup go bad?
Unopened simple syrup will go bad eventually if it is not used. Just like opened or homemade syrup, it can keep for as long as 3 months or more in a refrigerator. However, it runs the risk of crystallizing within a few weeks if left outside the refrigerator.
Does homemade sugar syrup need to be refrigerated?
It is highly recommended that sugar syrup be refrigerated, whether homemade or store-bought. The refrigerator will slow down the growth of bacteria and keep the syrup fresh for as long as possible.
So, does simple syrup have to be refrigerated? Yes, it does. Don’t get it twisted; simple syrup can be stored at room temperature, but its shelf life will suffer. If you want syrup that’ll last for months and not just a few weeks, your best course of action is to refrigerate. Although sugar is generally not conducive for bacteria’s growth, bacteria can grow in syrup because of the water content.