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A Simple Syrup Question

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I just read another of many instructions for making simple syrup. The ingredients and process is always the same but the recommended storage time in the refrigerator is all over the place: 3 days, a week, 2weeks, a month.
Which one is correct? And if I stored boiled sugar and water in a clean container in the refrigerator, what can happen to it? Does it "go bad" and, if so, what would be the indication(s) that it had? It seems to me that it should last almost indefinitely but I don't remember ever seeing this stated.

This has bugged me for a long time- please enlighten me!

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  1. It does not go bad as long as you keep it refrigerated...period!

    1. Simple Syrup lasts about a month in the refrigerator. With a tablespoon of vodka added, however, it will last up to 3 months.

      1. "Going bad" in this context means growing mold. So if it looks fine, there should be no problem.

        As far as how long this takes, it will depend on the concentration of the syrup, and how sterile it is in the first place. The higher the sugar/water ratio, the more resistant to mold it will be. I suspect that if you re-boiled it periodically, you could keep it indefinitely.

        It's actually quite similar to keeping jam in the fridge. The main reason jam lasts so much longer than fresh fruit is the high sugar content (at least 2/3 by weight) which prevents spoilage, but after you open the jam for the first time, it doesn't last forever.

        1. It could crystallize.

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            only if it is open to evaporate. Assuming it is a simple syrup and not more saturated.

          2. You'd see mold floating on the top or on the sides of the container. I store simple syrup for months and have only ever had this happen to mine once. I have no idea if there's a correlation, but that was since I've switched to organic sugar.

            If it looks fine, it is fine.

            1. As others have stated--look for mold, but plain simple syrup should last weeks if refrigerated. It can ferment if not kept cold. If you have infused anything in it, that can change how long it lasts in unpredictable ways. I have some that had hard spices in it, and it's doing fine after several weeks. But the big batch of basil simple syrup that I made one year only lasted 2 weeks. It didn't mold, but instead became scarily gelatinous and primordial-soup like. I've learned to scrutinize and sniff before using ss.

              1. Thanks to everyone for your replies. It apprars that, as usual, common sense prevails.

                1. I have two jars of homemade simple syrup in my fridge that I have had well over a year -- one mint flavored and one lemon flavored.

                  They look exactly the same as when I put them in the fridge (no mold).... I'm guessing I should pour them out, but had been very curious to know how long they would last.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Tehama

                    Nope. I wouldnt throw them out; as I've said, they're good as long as you keep them refrigerated (and no mold exists). If they crystallize, dissolve the mixture by heating the syrup

                    1. re: Cherylptw

                      Cool.... I had originally made the mint simple syrup for mint juleps, but for whatever reason, never got around to making a big batch of mint juleps. I forgot what I was doing now with the lemon simple syrup (thanks, a.d.d.) that I never got around to.

                      Any ideas for mint simple syrup or lemon simple syrup are most welcome!

                      1. re: Tehama

                        Off the top of my head, I'd use both the mint and lemon simple syrups in iced tea, to make sorbet or gelatin desserts, in cake batters and to make fruit compotes.

                        You could also poach pears or other fruit in the lemon syrup; make oatmeal with lemon syrup (if you like it sweet) and add grated lemon zest and toasted walnuts.

                        You could turn the mint syrup into a mint jelly to use for lamb and other dishes....the jelly would be nice to make a fruit salsa with (add some lime zest)

                        1. re: Cherylptw

                          Ohhh! Fabulous ideas. What a terrific idea for the poaching pears --- so funny you mentioned that; my mommy just mentioned last night she wanted some poached pears and now I *have* to do that for her. Thank you!

                          1. re: Tehama

                            A couple more suggestions came to me; both would be good to make pancake, french toast or waffle batters AND if you boil them down, they would make decent syrups to drizzle over the same (with some enhancements)

                            You're very welcome; enjoy...

                            1. re: Cherylptw

                              Oh heck yeah! The weekend is almost here. Terrific ideas!

                  2. I was flabbergasted at the fact that my simple syrup, kept in a cupboard, developed a mold so quickly. Knowing that sugar retards bacterial growth i thought it would have a hugely long shelf life. Kept in the fridge I have kept it clean for 6 weeks or so (I just had to throw a bottle out tonight).

                    I know the question from the OP is answered.. but I'm still stuck on the "why". Are mold cells that different from bacteria that they thrive in a sugar-rich world? Is there an anti-mold agent that could be added to the simple syrup to make it last longer? I also wonder if a more sterile starting procedure might help me. Think: canning.

                    1. Can simple syrup be frozen successfully?