Some basic facts, as I understand them, from the article. I'm not a chemist, so feel free to correct what I get wrong.
Simple Syrup (Gomme) is made by dissolving some quantity of sugar (sucrose) in water. The most basic is made by dissolving one part sucrose in one part water.
Sucrose is a disaccharide, meaning it is a complex sugar made up of 2 molecules of simple sugars. Sucrose is made up of one molecule of Glucose bound to one molecule of Fructose.
When Sucrose is dissolved in water, some sucrose molecules break down into their component simple sugars. The more energy which is applied to the dissolving of sucrose, the more molecules of the complex sugar which will break down into their component simple sugars. If you simmer Sucrose in water for an half an hour or so the majority of Sucrose molecules will have been broken down into Glucose and Fructose and you will have what is called an "Invert Sugar". Invert Sugars have significantly different physical and taste properties from Complex Sugars.
For drink making the most important thing is consistency.
Since I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and started cooking in the 80s, I inevitably was told "Refined Sugar is Bad". Initially, this made me try to increase the amount of brown sugar in my cooking. I have since discovered that brown sugar is nothing but refined sugar with some portion of its molasses mixed back in, so I was not avoiding refined sugar at all by using it! Lately, I have been taken with a product called Washed Raw Sugar. It is an amber colored free flowing large crystal sugar product which is made from unrefined cane syrup. In England it is called Turbinado. Demerara is the fanciest turbinado style sugar. I will also note that C & H's Washed Raw Sugar is their only product which does not pass through bone char filters made from the carbonized cattle skeletons.
My method is to combine one cup of Washed Raw Sugar with one cup of water. I then bring it to a bare simmer, remove from heat, and stir until all the crystals dissolve. At this point I cool it to room temperature, pour into a clean sealable jar, and refridgerate.
As you can see this makes an amber colored slightly viscous syrup. The only variations I make with any consistency are a lemon zest infused syrup for lemonade or my non-traditional juleps and a ginger infused syrup for cocktails. To make these, I simply add the ingredients to the cooling syrup, and then strain before refridgerating.
What is your simple syrup method? Have you discovered any exciting or useful simple syrup infusions?
Added original author attribution.
Edited by eje, 23 May 2005 - 02:27 PM.