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Simple Syrup Shelf-life

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Top 150 Contributor
Posts 13
Scott M. Birk Posted: 19 Mar 2009 1:01 PM

I've seen recipes for simple syrup that recommend a life expectancy of two weeks. That seems pretty short- anyone else concur or disagree?

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 205

  The stuff that you buy will last on the shelf until the end of the world, basically.

  When you make simply syrup, I've never had any go bad, but that said - I never make so much as to have any sit for weeks.  That would be a terrific amount of SS to make.

Liberty Bar  ::  Seattle, WA  ::  Alcohology

Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 38

I think that if kept sealed and refrigerated it should be a bit longer than that...there is also a thread somewhere on here where Robert Hess mentions adding a small quantity of vodka to your simple syrup to increase shelf life. Otherwise to follow from what Liberty bar said...make less more often...it's not exactly difficult or time consuming to make so whip up smaller batches on a more regular basis.

Top 25 Contributor
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Posts 100

Depends on the concentration of the sugar solution and how careful you are about sanitation.

A hot process 2-1 sugar syrup in a well cleaned and sanitized bottle will last basically forever.

A cold process 1-1 solution in a dirty wine bottle might not even last a week.

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Posts 215

Never before have I seen simple syrup go bad. EVER. but yes I do believe it is the least of a bars problems as they said before... it just goes so quickly. If youre scared its going to go bad at home, just use it in your coffee.

I write even more of this drivel on Drinkmanual.com

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Posts 24

I live in Quebec and infusing alcohol is illegal here, along with a bunch of other rules that make it a little more complicated to put some well needed flavor into drinks. I'd love to be able to create a panoply of flavored syrups I could just store indefinately in the fridge at the bar and pull out when necessary. Any ideas on the life span of a flavored syrup as opposed to the strait-up syrup and water mix?

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 205

  David, infusing alcohol is technically illegal here in Seattle, also. 

  But, we don't have the Mounties, so we're safe.  Our police are too busy watching out for you Canadians.

  In terms of infused SS, just add an ounce or two of vodka to the mix and it'll hold for a while.  I forget off the top of my head what proof a liquid has to be to not spoil, and while that point won't be reached with a few ounces in a pint glass, it'll hold off any spoilage ESPECIALLY if you keep it refridgerated. 

  David - I have seen black mold grow inside symple syrup bottles that are not washed frequently.

Liberty Bar  ::  Seattle, WA  ::  Alcohology

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Posts 197

Liberty - Bar:

    David - I have seen black mold grow inside symple syrup bottles that are not washed frequently.

This is quite an interesting thread.

 I´ve also seen SS go bad many times, but this time varies a lot.

I think it depends on many factors as discussed above (sugar concentration, refrigeration, sanitized bottles, alcohol content, etc.), but there is another factor that I´d like to ad: Acidity. Increasing the acidity will also help increasing the shelf life of you syrup. That´s why the food industry uses citric acid as a conservative.

I´m not saying that you should ad citric acid to all your syrups, but it is a factor that could contribute to the shelf life.

Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 110

1:1 simple syrups don't seem particularly stable to me.  They can last a long time under refrigeration if you're lucky, but I've also had some bottles go off in my refrigerator.

2:1 simple will last more or less forever, under refrigeration or not.

With infused simple syrups it depends on what it is infused with, in addition to the strength of the syrup.  There are many more factors, and the two most important ones seem to be: 1. potential fungi or bacteria that the other ingredients bringing to the game, and whether they killed off by hot processing; and 2. the inherent spoilage or flavor degradation characteristics of the additional ingredients.

As a general rule of thumb, I've found that citrus zest-infused simple will last just as long as you'd expect any simple of the same concentration to last.  I find that most any fresh herb-infused simple syrup tastes not-quite-right more or less immediately, and goes downhill from there fairly rapidly.  These also seem to be among the most prone to spoilage, especially in the case of a cold infusion.  Cold-process ginger syrup keeps its "bite" for around a day, and hot process ginger syrup doesn't have much bite to begin with (spicy gingerol degrades to  zingerone).  Spice-infused simple can be quite variable in stability.

Really, with the exception of citrus-infused simple and perhaps quinine-infused "tonic syrup," I can't see any compelling reason to do an infused syrup instead of simply muddling the flavoring ingredient with regular simple to-order or, in the case of spices, making an alcoholic tincture that is dashed in.

Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 215

Just to clarify... I have never seen it go off, I am sure it can, but Ive never made that much in a dirty bottle that it has. I can not for the life of me imagine why a bottle of symple syrup should last that long or why it would be an issue if it doesnt make it... Its the cheapest ingredient in your drink after ice.

I write even more of this drivel on Drinkmanual.com

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