Simple Syrup--why so complicated?

I’ve never had occasion to make or use simple syrup, but I’ve read directions several times, and it looks to me like you add sugar to water, heat and stir, and then cool. Which brings me to my question–why not just add sugar to room temperature water and stir until dissolved? Wouldn’t the end result be the same?

No, because the heating produces a hypersaturated solution, with more sugar dissolved than could be dissolved into cooler water. That makes it thick syrup and not just sugar water.

DrFidelis has it. Simple syrup is a sweeter product, and the sugar is completely dissolved, with no graininess. This is important in some recipes.

Think of a glass of iced tea. If it is icy cold, you have to dump a LOT of sugar into it to get any appreciable level of sweetness to it. And there will always be that grit in the bottom of the glass. That is why Southern “sweet tea” has an appeal: the tea is sweetened when the water is hot, so all the sugar dissolves and you don’t get the crystals at the bottom of the glass.

If you don’t want to go through all the bother of making a simple syrup, buy a bottle of red label Karo.
~VOW

It is possible to just mix the sugar and water and then stir for a while. If you don’t stir you get a hard sludge on the bottom of the container. Maybe if you wait a few days it might dissolve. The process takes a whole lot less time if you use heat.

Heat a cup of water to simmer, stir in a cup of sugar until it dissolves. Complicated? Yes, but worth it.

Simple syrup is not the same as heavy, supersaturated syrups. It’s a simple solution to avoid having to dissolve sugar in cold drinks.

Ah, now I see. This is what happens when you like having sugar-grit at the bottom of your glass of tea…I never make southern-style sweet tea because I like to crunch the undissolved sugar up when I suck it up through a straw. :slight_smile:

And this is exactly why I add sugar to my coffee grounds before I pour hot water over them (I use a French press).

You can have both. I know more than one person who adds sugar to their southern tea for that very purpose.

A trick to making simple syrup is to put a little bit of lemon juice in; it’ll help the sugar invert a little bit, which keeps the rest of the sugar from crystallizing out so easily (think rock candy).

The reason for heating isn’t just about reducing the time to dissolve. Even if you were bored and don’t mind the time it takes, stirring the same amount of sucrose slowly into cold water will not result in the same product. Sucrose solutions will tend to recrystallize as they lose water and become supersaturated.

Heating, however, breaks the sucrose molecules into glucose and fructose molecules, creating invert sugar. Heating is necessary to create this hydrolysis without catalysts. When the solution is cooled down, it’s no longer a sucrose solution, but a glucose and fructose solution. This solution is far less likely to crystallize when used in the finished product.