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(Not So) Simple, Flavored, & Spiced Syrups


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#181 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 12:30 PM

Certainly in the Jerry Thomas era raspberry seemed to be most common but pomegranate syrup in the form of grenadine and orgeat syrup (is that a fruit?) have been more or less common in the prewar era as well. Pineapple syrup not unheard-of and indeed is included in the highly delicious East India.

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I think of both orgeat and grenadine as complex syrups with other stuff in them.

How do you make pineapple syrup? Is this where you make a thick simple syrup, pour it over pineapple and let the syrup extract the pineapple flavor? That's quite different than the raspberry syrup which is actually make raspberry juice and puree.

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Yeah, that seems to be the most common recommended way to make pineapple syrup, though the flavor will fade over time, or did when I made it like that. I think the distinction that makes grenadine not a fruit syrup may be a bit technical, it's used in more or less the same way, and contributes a fruity character to drinks.

Definitions of what is and is not classic are of course a matter of opinion but Don the Beachcomber liked Passion Fruit Syrup quite a bit it seems, and green mint syrup pops up here and again, as well as anisette syrups, mostly in Frenchy Things. Strawberry syrup not exactly a common thing to call for but not unheard-of, either. Apricot and lemon come up in the Savoy.

Any particular syrup you might be looking for a recipe for? Or just determining which ones you want to have?
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#182 kathryn

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 10:03 AM

I have found that, if you cannot make ginger syrup of the kind Toby is using (fresh ginger juice mixed with sugar -- which is not very practical for home mixologists) then you can do very well by aggressively muddling plenty of thin slices of fresh ginger with simple syrup and double straining on the way out to catch all the tiny pieces of ginger.

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I usually make batches of ginger beer using the Audrey Saunders recipe. Would ginger beer + simple syrup (1:1) be an appropriate substitute for ginger syrup?
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#183 Alcuin

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 10:49 AM

I have found that, if you cannot make ginger syrup of the kind Toby is using (fresh ginger juice mixed with sugar -- which is not very practical for home mixologists) then you can do very well by aggressively muddling plenty of thin slices of fresh ginger with simple syrup and double straining on the way out to catch all the tiny pieces of ginger.

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I usually make batches of ginger beer using the Audrey Saunders recipe. Would ginger beer + simple syrup (1:1) be an appropriate substitute for ginger syrup?

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Maybe you can just sweeten the ginger beer, which after all is really just a kind of ginger water. You can make a 1:1 ginger beer/sugar syrup and that might work.

Really though I think slkinsey's suggestion to muddle some ginger in syrup and double strain is the best solution. I've done it (usually to make Penicillins) and it works perfectly, loaded with ginger spice. Best of all, it doesn't really take much extra time for good results. The problem of ginger syrup shelf life isn't going to go away no matter how you make the syrup.
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#184 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 03:11 PM

I have found that, if you cannot make ginger syrup of the kind Toby is using (fresh ginger juice mixed with sugar -- which is not very practical for home mixologists) then you can do very well by aggressively muddling plenty of thin slices of fresh ginger with simple syrup and double straining on the way out to catch all the tiny pieces of ginger.

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I usually make batches of ginger beer using the Audrey Saunders recipe. Would ginger beer + simple syrup (1:1) be an appropriate substitute for ginger syrup?

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Maybe you can just sweeten the ginger beer, which after all is really just a kind of ginger water. You can make a 1:1 ginger beer/sugar syrup and that might work.

Really though I think slkinsey's suggestion to muddle some ginger in syrup and double strain is the best solution. I've done it (usually to make Penicillins) and it works perfectly, loaded with ginger spice. Best of all, it doesn't really take much extra time for good results. The problem of ginger syrup shelf life isn't going to go away no matter how you make the syrup.

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If you slice the ginger thin enough, like with a mandolin, I bet you can just shake it hard and you dont even have to muddle.
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#185 Mattmvb

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 03:49 PM

If you slice the ginger thin enough, like with a mandolin, I bet you can just shake it hard and you dont even have to muddle.

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I find grating it to be quick and effective. If you use quite a fine grater (the sort of size you'd use for nutmeg) nearly all the fibrous flesh will stick to the grater leaving you with just the juice - I don't seem to lose any flavour doing it this way.

#186 jmfangio

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 08:02 PM


If you slice the ginger thin enough, like with a mandolin, I bet you can just shake it hard and you dont even have to muddle.

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I find grating it to be quick and effective. If you use quite a fine grater (the sort of size you'd use for nutmeg) nearly all the fibrous flesh will stick to the grater leaving you with just the juice - I don't seem to lose any flavour doing it this way.

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I find that the best tool for grating ginger is a ceramic ginger grater. The price on the one I linked to at Amazon isn't bad, but if you live in a city with a Japanese market, you can probably do better.
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#187 haresfur

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 08:09 PM

If you slice the ginger thin enough, like with a mandolin, I bet you can just shake it hard and you dont even have to muddle.

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I keep ginger root in the freezer and you can shave it devilishly thin with a knife when it is frozen.
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#188 bmdaniel

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 09:13 AM

Posted Image


Here's what I have in the refrigerator these days.  From left to right: 1:1 simple syrup, 2:1 cane syrup (made with dehydrated cane juice), 2:1 demerara syrup, 1:1 ginger syrup (infused both hot and cold), 1:1 lime syrup.

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Alright, this is a 5 year old post, but I am having a hell of a time trying to find syrup bottles like this - are they glass or acrylic? Do you know a source?

#189 slkinsey

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 09:14 AM

I think I got every last one of them at the Container Store.
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#190 bmdaniel

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 09:24 AM

I think I got every last one of them at the Container Store.

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I've had no luck with their terrible website - I'll just head over there today and see what they've got.

Thanks!

#191 lostmyshape

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:42 PM

very nice bottles, but i've given up on bottles with speed-pourer type tops for any of my syrups. they clog after 2 or 3 pours (it's the little tube that's supposed to let air in that gets stopped up) and cleaning them is a pain.

instead, i use syrup pourers -- the kind normally used for maple/corn syrup. they aren't too expensive, you can easily find them (Target), they pour fast, don't clog easily, and are painless and fast to clean. need more than 12?

#192 slkinsey

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:26 PM

I have actually replaced all those pour tops. Pour tops for syrups only really work when you're going through a lot of syrup, where the pour tops can be cleaned frequently, and when the syrup is not poured at refrigerator temperature (i.e., in a bar). Nowadays, I just keep the bottles sealed with rubber corks.
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#193 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:37 PM

very nice bottles, but i've given up on bottles with speed-pourer type tops for any of my syrups.  they clog after 2 or 3 pours (it's the little tube that's supposed to let air in that gets stopped up) and cleaning them is a pain. 

instead, i use syrup pourers -- the kind normally used for maple/corn syrup.  they aren't too expensive, you can easily find them (Target), they pour fast, don't clog easily, and are painless and fast to clean.  need more than 12?

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Cleaning speed pours is a cinch, just toss them in a tub of very hot water for a few minutes and that should do the trick. Make sure the water isn't too hot though, or you can melt the plastic part. No need to ask me how I know this.
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#194 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 09:32 AM

Over in the All about Bitters topic, I posted last spring about a batch of tincture experiments. I was hoping to do some bitter-making but the summer... and most of the fall... got away from me.

However, today, as I was preparing straight-up simple syrup for a cocktail class I'm teaching tomorrow night, I found myself with about 250 ml of extra simple, and I thought I'd take a crack at making a spiced syrup using the tinctures. I didn't measure -- this was a dash 'n' taste 'n' dash affair -- but kept track of rough amounts.

I used cinnamon, allspice, and clove, of course, but also combined a few hefty dashes of pau d'arco and sassafrass. I used less costus root and wild cherry bark proportionally, as they are quite a bit more bitter than the other ingredients.

The finished syrup is layered and complex, with different elements revealed over ten seconds or so. Next up will be figuring out some applications, starting with Old Fashioneds, Milk Punches, and Toddies.

Given that the holidays are on the way, surely I'm not the only person making spiced syrup. How do you make it? What do you use it for?

Edited by Chris Amirault, 15 November 2009 - 09:41 AM.
to clarify some language

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#195 slkinsey

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 11:17 AM

I've never quite understood the utility behind making spiced syrups. Why not mix together a "spice blend" of tinctures (aka, a kind of bitters) and dash that in? The problem with spiced syrups, in my opinion, is that you're stuck in a position where in order to add flavor you have to add sweetness. I'd prefer to add my spice flavors and sweetness separately, which allows for much more flexibility in recipes and ingredients.

For a bar drink, where the spiced syrup has been titrated precisely for the specific cocktail made with specific ingredients, I imagine it's easier than dashing in a "spice bitters." But, for example, let's say you have a spiced syrup that works really well with bourbon #1. But you want to make the drink with bourbon #2. #2 is sweeter than #1, however, so you don't want to use as much sweetness. But now there isn't the amount of spice you'd like. And so on. Making that same spice infusion (or, in Chris's example, making the same blend of tinctures) into alcohol makes this easy: Just put in the amount of sugar appropriate to the ingredients or recipe variation, and dash in the spice mix until you get the presence you want.
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#196 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 11:48 AM

In general, I agree that the consistently of the sweetness is a limitation. In this case, I was using up some simple and trying different combinations of existing tinctures for fun. There was an added benefit, though, which is that the syrup medium allowed me to sample as I went, instead of dashing the mixture into another liquid to taste it.
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#197 jk1002

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:06 PM

I do these syrups all the time as a thing of "convenience". Right now I have a ginger/lime syrup for a quick margarita in my fridge. I also do sometimes water/brown sugar/mint for a quick mint julep getting around the requirement of having fresh mint in the house which won't last long at all. I also do a ginger simple syrup, to be mixed with muddled frozen cranberries, calvados and gin.

These syrups are a great tool of preserving flavors so I can pull of a decent cocktail without planning or constant stock keeping of fresh ingredients.

#198 slkinsey

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:52 PM

I think there is some utility to making syrups infused with things such as lime, lemon or grapefruit peel as a way of increasing those flavors when used in addition to some fresh juice to balance. I disagree that ginger syrup or especially any syrup made from fresh herbs have a very good shelf-life or are an alternative to using fresh ingredients, but that's another subject. As are, I suppose, the above-mentioned zest-infused syrups in a thread about spice-infused syrups. Something like grapefruit syrup or pineapple syrup or sirop de citron has much broader applicability than a cinnamon-clove-cardomom (or whatever) syrup.
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#199 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 05:54 PM

I think there are many good reasons to use syrups over tinctures for some applications. The most immidiate for me is that the rules regarding in-house infusions in Texas are quite restrictive and while there are certainly places that work around it, my management is not interested in arm-wrestling TABC for something like that and so I use flavored syrups of all kinds with regularity, and the spice flavors are strong enough that the syrup can be used in small barspoon amounts to add a layer of spice if I want, without adding significant sweetness. They are also great for using in nonalcoholic applications. Third, from my experiments in bitters manufacture, I feel comfortable saying that flavors express differently in alcohol than in water (syrup). While the difference is usually subtle, sometimes you may desire the more round expression of spice that a syrup provides, vs the sharper expression a tincture offers.

As for what I've used them for, well early this year I started making a syrup whose flavor was based off of the spice flavors in Don the Beachcomber's Nui Nui (in Sippin Safari, p 92) which includes Angostura Bitters, cinnamon syrup, and 'Dons Spices', itself a mix of Pimento Dram and vanilla syrup. Apart from a variation on the Nui Nui using said syrup, we also had pretty good success with something we call a 'Greater Antilles' which is essentially a Mojito sweetened with the aforementioned syrup and swapping out the Flor de Cana 7 yr for the rum. Pretty good.

Our next drink menu is coming out soon and it will feature a made-to-order eggnog based off of Jerry Thomas, using Buffalo Trace Bourbon for the spirit and the same spice syrup for the sweetener. Oh yes.
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#200 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 01:31 PM

Andy, do you steep the spices directly in the syrup? Over heat? Over time?
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#201 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 04:16 PM

Andy, do you steep the spices directly in the syrup? Over heat? Over time?


I just crush the spices, toss them into the syrup as it comes to a simmer, simmer a couple of minutes then cover and remove from heat. Let it sit a few hours then strain and bottle. It lasts a few months at least in the walk-in, I make big batches at once since the flavor improves over time.
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#202 KatieLoeb

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 12:58 AM

Chris:

Here's a recipe for a spiced simple I've used in the past. I generally let it cool overnight and then strain it, so as to allow the spices to steep for as long as possible and extract maximal flavor.

Spiced Dark Simple Syrup

1.25 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks, broken up
4 star anise
10 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup demerara sugar (I use Trader Joe's organic)

Bring water to a boil and add spices. Allow to boil for three minutes. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and allow to simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Strain before using.


This recipe tends to change from time to time as well. I've added a couple of cardamom pods, black or pink peppercorns, some allspice berries, whatever. But this is the skeleton I work from most of the time. It works well with white granulated sugar too, I just like what the darker sugar brings to the party.

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#203 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 06:19 PM

I've tweaked this lavender honey syrup from Art of the Bar to include Yunnan black tea. It's pretty simple: measuring by volume,

1 c hot water brought to the boil, steeped with
1 T tea leaves for 4 minutes. (No longer or you'll get ubertannins.) Add
1/2 c honey and
1/4 c dried lavender

Stir and let cool, then strain.

It needs more sugar, I think, or to be supplemented by rich simple, but it's a very interesting combination. Trying out possibilities, like this.
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#204 Kent Wang

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 05:10 PM

Over in the grenadine thread, I discuss using freeze reduction (aka the icewine method) to make a grenadine. Using that same method I've also made grapefruit and orange syrups. I get fresh squeezed, non-pasteurized juices from Central Market where they have a big juicer, freeze reduce twice or thrice to get the volume down to about half, then add an equal volume of sugar.

So it ends up being as sweet as 1:1 simple syrup plus all the sugar of the reduced juice. It seems to keep just as well as simple syrup, lasting several weeks at least. It can possibly last even longer, but I use it all up before then.

The grapefruit was interesting to sip on its own but pretty much loses all its character when mixed. The orange syrup, however, was quite a hit. It's an interesting substitute (or supplement) for drinks that have Cointreau or other triple secs. The margarita with orange syrup subbed for Cointreau was quite good: less alcoholic and a lot more fresh orange notes. When you use plain orange juice (say, in a Monkey Gland), it's always quite bland and watery but the orange syrup is so much more concentrated, and therefore more suited to mixing.

It's interesting that the freeze reduction method or boil reduction method that you typically use with grenadine are reduction methods while the more common method for pineapple is an infusion: leave pineapple chunks in simple syrup for 24 hours, than strain out. It's an infused syrup, as opposed to an infused spirit, which is a whole other thread.

My friends actually tried doing the pineapple syrup recipe described in Vintage Spirits with both the recommended 2:1 simple syrup and 1:1 simple syrup and the latter seemed to taste just as pineapple-y, if not more so. And being not as sweet, you can put twice as much in a drink than the 2:1 syrup. Perhaps it won't keep as long.

So that leads me to wonder instead of making a pineapple-infused syrup, what if I did a freeze reduction of pineapple juice? Pineapple is very difficult to juice on your own, but I can get it from Central Market by special request.

Or how about a grape syrup, essentially making your own icewine?

#205 Kent Wang

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 05:14 PM

For Kent-ucky Derby day, we made mint juleps with each of the grapefruit, pineapple, and orange syrups and they were all awesome. I think I did 4 oz Bulleit to 1.5 oz syrup. Most of the juleps you couldn't actually easily identify what fruit the syrup was, perhaps because of all the mint and bourbon, but damn did they all taste much, much better than using plain simple syrup.

#206 vice

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 05:51 PM

So that leads me to wonder instead of making a pineapple-infused syrup, what if I did a freeze reduction of pineapple juice? Pineapple is very difficult to juice on your own, but I can get it from Central Market by special request.

bostonapothecary is a step ahead of you on that front. It sounds like a great idea.
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#207 Kent Wang

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 04:18 AM

Thanks for posting that. I wonder how it compares to the infusion method.

$8 for a gallon of pineapple juice is really good. I think Central Market wants to charge me something like $28 -- though I don't need a gallon if I'm just making syrup. Of course $1 a pineapple is also a whole lot cheaper than the $3 or so prices here, and that's on sale too.

#208 bostonapothecary

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for posting that. I wonder how it compares to the infusion method.

$8 for a gallon of pineapple juice is really good. I think Central Market wants to charge me something like $28 -- though I don't need a gallon if I'm just making syrup. Of course $1 a pineapple is also a whole lot cheaper than the $3 or so prices here, and that's on sale too.


the pineapple syrup was a fun recipe and i used it quite a few times on a large scale for some catering. i'm sure the "pure juice method" (concentrated or not) is much more intense than the infusion method.

when you start to turn freeze concentrated juices into syrups its easy to make them aromatically too intense. it only takes a little more aroma to make the syrups really exciting.

now that spring is in full effect i've been having a lot of fun with strawberries... the basket press is the perfect tool.
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#209 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 02:52 PM

Thanks for posting that. I wonder how it compares to the infusion method.

$8 for a gallon of pineapple juice is really good. I think Central Market wants to charge me something like $28 -- though I don't need a gallon if I'm just making syrup. Of course $1 a pineapple is also a whole lot cheaper than the $3 or so prices here, and that's on sale too.


Latino markets, I think, are where you want to look for pineapples in Texas. Saw them 2/$3 around here not too long ago, and I'm not even sure that was a sale price.
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#210 Dan Perrigan

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 11:01 AM

Ack! There's "stuff" in my pineapple syrup!

On November 6, I made up a batch of Pineapple Syrup (4 cups sugar, 2 cups water, cubed whole pineapple, soak overnight and strain into bottle(s)). I topped it off with an ounce of Lemonhart 151 and mixed it in. I've been storing it in the fridge, but yesterday I noticed some filaments of brownish stuff at the bottom of the bottle.

Is this normal sediment? Mold? Is there even any way to tell? I was hoping this would last a few months in the fridge.

Thanks,
Dan