Lavender Simple Syrup with Real Lavender
Sugar (simple) syrup can easily be enhanced by a variety of herbs or fruit. One of my favourite herb to use for a little floral kick is lavender. For my Lavender simple syrup recipe below, fresh lavender blossoms are steeped with water and sugar on low heat to create a sweet syrup with a light floral aroma perfect for flavouring your favourite cocktails or other sweet sinful delights or with this refreshing Lavender Pineapple Mojito recipe.
When choosing your lavender blossoms for this recipe, use unopened buds that have not flowered completely —opt for the buds that are bright purple but still tightly wrapped. You can also use dried lavender, which can be found at most natural food grocery stores or speciality stores like Neob Lavender. Also, please make sure to use culinary lavender (ask shopkeeper). While all lavender is edible, culinary lavender is light and sweet while other forms of lavender are more bitter due to the higher level of camphor which is treated as a toxin by the body.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is basically a liquid that is made by dissolving sugar in hot water, yet many people would go to speciality stores to purchase simple syrup or flavoured simple syrup thinking it’s something they can’t do on their own. The beauty of simple syrup is that although it’s easy to make, it can be used in a wide variety of applications; it is common in café, bakeries, and bars.
Coffee shops add flavoured syrup to coffee, teas and lattes. In baking, depending on the thickness, simple syrup is often used to soak sponge cakes and pound cakes to moisten them. My friend’s mother poked holes in a freshly baked cake and drizzled some simple syrup in to make her cake rich, moist and full of surprises! Bakers also use simple syrup to glaze baked goods or to preserve fruits. Alcohol or flavoured extracts can be added to simple syrup to give it an extra flavour kick, and also to act as a preservative. It is also used as a base for making rock candy, a candy made with crystallized sugar. Barkeeps used the classic simple syrup to sweeten and thicken drinks, and flavoured simple syrup to add interesting tastes to their cocktails.
Types of Simple Syrups
The classic simple syrup recipe is a mixture of one part sugar and one part water, or two parts sugar to one part water if you prefer it to be thicker and richer. Water is brought to the boiling point, and the sugar is stirred in until it’s completely dissolved. At which point it should be removed from the heat source, and allowed to cool before it is placed in a clean glass container.
This is for lavender simple syrup recipe, but you can make any flavoured simple syrup you can imagine. Just replace the lavender flower with any herbs, whole spices or any citrus rind you love. In the summer, make fresh simple syrups with the herbs in your garden such as basil, peppermint, rosemary or thyme. If you love snow cones in the summer as much as I do, add a packet of unsweetened kool-aid to simple syrup for snow cone syrup. And for the cold winter months, use whole cloves, cinnamon sticks or vanilla bean to make simple syrups for your hot beverages. Let your imagination run wild! They’re great any time of the year when you want an extra flavour kick in your lemonades, cocktails, hot beverage or dessert.
There are many types of simple syrup, depending on the flavour, richness, and thickness. Do play around with the thickness, or richness of your simple syrup. For a richer, more flavourful amber coloured simple syrup, use brown sugar, demerara, muscovado or coconut palm sugar instead of white sugar. It gives it that almost caramel character to the syrup and works especially well with cocktails that use brown spirits such as bourbon, tequila or rye whisky. I like using honey in simple syrup (except buckwheat honey since it’s a bit too overpowering) because I like how it gives the simple syrup an extra depth of taste. I prefer to use honey in my cocktails over white sugar since it’s healthier (and tastier), however, honey is too thick and doesn’t dissolve well. But by turning it into simple syrup, I can thin it out, and use it in all my favourite cocktail recipes.
Classic simple syrups have a very long shelf life since sugar is a natural preservative. So as long as impurities are not introduced into the syrup, it can be kept at room temperature for months. Before transferring simple syrup to a glass container, I like to be extra clean and place some hot water in the container, close it, and shake it a couple of times before pouring out the water and placing the simple syrup. This gets rid of any impurities.
Simple Syrup Ratio
Simple syrup comes in wide variety of thicknesses or densities, with various different usages for each. Simple syrup is all about the ratio; its thickness is depended on the ratio of water to sugar used. If you want your simple syrup to be more syrupy, use more sugar. Want your simple syrup more watery? Use less sugar and more water. Once you find your perfect ratio for your recipe, the world of homemade simple syrup becomes endless. Here is a general guideline for simple syrup ratio:
Thin Simple Syrup is usually used for glazing cakes and cookies. They are made with a ratio of 3 parts water and 1 part sugar. A simple syrup ratio of 3:1.
Medium Simple Syrup is used to sweeten hot beverages and iced tea. They are made with a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar. A simple syrup ratio of 1:1.
Thick or Rich Simple Syrup is bartender’s favourite and is usually used as the basis for cocktails or cold fruity drinks. They are made with a ratio of 1 part water and 2 part sugar, a ratio of 1:2. This is also my preferred simple syrup ratio as it has two advantages: first, you can use a much smaller amount of simple sugar per drink, which reduces the volume of water per cocktail while giving it the necessary sweetness. And second, rich simple syrup lasts much longer in the refrigerator before spoiling.
Simple Syrup Shelf Life
Syrups are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to add a personal touch to every cocktail. Depending on the type of simple syrup and its ratio, the shelf life of simple syrup can be lengthened in two ways: increasing the ratio of sugar to water or adding neutral spirit. Of course, the bottling procedure is also important. It should be stored in an airtight container since bacteria can’t multiply without air. Unopened, it can be stored in your cabinet, however, I do recommend refrigeration after the bottles have been opened to prevent any sneaky microbes from entering. Note, although I do mention the simple syrup shelf life below, simple syrup is best used fresh. It’s simple enough to make!
Simple syrup with a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar will last about a month, 1:1 ratio.
Simple syrup with a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar plus one tablespoon of vodka/rum last about three months.
Simple syrup with a ratio of 1 part water to 2 part sugar will last about six months before becoming cloudy.
Simple syrup with a ratio of 1 part water to 2 part sugar plus one tablespoon of vodka/rum will stay good for a whole year.
Flavoured simple syrup with no preservative added will only last 3 – 14 days depending on the ‘flavour’ used.
Lavender Flavoured Simple Syrup Recipe
For this lavender syrup recipe below, fresh lavender blossoms are steeped with water and sugar on low heat to create a sweet syrup with a light floral aroma perfect for flavouring your favourite hot or cold beverages. When choosing your lavender blossoms for this recipe, use unopened buds that have not flowered completely. As I've mentioned above, look for the buds that are bright purple but still tightly wrapped. You can also use dried lavender.
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoon fresh or dried lavender flowers
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon honey
Bring water and lavender to a boil. Once it starts boiling, stir in the sugar and keep stirring until fully dissolved.
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to steep for at least an hour.
Strain out the lavender and pour the mixture into a clean airtight glass container. Store it in the refrigerator. It will be good for at least a week.
The recipe makes a very sweet and thick syrup. It will yield just over 1 cup. If you would like to make more, simply double the ingredients. The lavender notes are light, but if you prefer a stronger floral note, you can always add more lavender flowers. Make it to your preference!