Allergen friendly lemon simple syrup is the perfect way to add flavour and sweetness to drinks and home baking.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is basically just water and granulated sugar in a 1:1 ratio. You heat it slightly in a pot on the hob, just until the sugar dissolves. Voilà!! Once cooled you can decant it in a pretty bottle and store in the fridge for a week.
It is perfect to add moisture to cakes and other bakes or for cocktail making. What is amazing about simple syrups is the flavours you can do.
Beware though once you fall down the rabbit hole of flavoured simple syrups you’ll be looking at all the ingredients you use as possible syrup flavourings.
Directions for Making Flavoured Simple Syrup
When adding the flavourings you need to first sort them into two groups; watery and drier. The drier ones like fresh herbs and firmer fruit (apples, rhubarb, strawberries) you just add a handful of them to your water before the sugar is added and it is heated and leave the addition in until you bottle it. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the fruit or flavouring solids.
I usually set the spent fruit on waxed paper for a day to dry or on parchment and pop it in the oven on the lowest heat if I need it straight away. You can also put it in the oven on parchment with the oven light on overnight.
I use the dried sweet bits as garnish for cupcakes, loaf tops, or drinks. The kids often eat them before I get too far with them. Mint is my favourite as after it has been in the simple syrup Ian’s is laid out flat to dry it is all crispy and candied.
Waterier flavour additions tend to need to be juiced first. Limes and lemons can use the juice and zest for example. With watermelon, crush it first, remove the juice and add it to the water measurement. Keep the 1:1 ratio of liquid to sugar so add the juice to a measuring cup and top it with water to the ratio needed that day. The zest of a citrus fruit goes into the pot too for added flavour.
Cook as before, never boiling only to just dissolved. Once cool, strain it, and bottle the syrup. You can dry the zests for baking, use as a drink garnish, or put the pulp on parchment and dehydrate in the oven for a sweetened fruit leather, if you’d like.
Basic Lemon Simple Syrup Ingredients
Simple Syrup is a 1:1 ratio of water and granulated sugar plus flavourings.
Equal parts to sugar. I reduce the water if using a juicy flavouring. See the Flavouring section below for tips.
Granulated sugar is traditional. Sugar alternatives can be used as well please check below for tips on using them. If you use monk fruit or a sugar replacement please let us know how much syrup you ended up needing.
When making lemon simple syrup you can use both the juice and the zest, if you'd prefer. The juice is included to the water measurement to keep the 1:1 ratio. So if your lemon yields ¼ cup juice you would top it up with ¾ of a cup of water to get the correct ratio.
I prefer lemon zest for flavouring the syrup rather than zest and juice. Make sure your zest is only the coloured part of the citrus, without any of the white pith part. The pith can make the syrup bitter.
Herbs and spices can be used to flavour or other fruits as an adaptation. Rosemary is one of our favourite herbs for simple syrups in the summer. In the winter we make a killer clove, cinnamon, and ginger syrup to add to holiday drinks and baking.
How to Use Lemon Simple Syrup
There are two really common ways to use simple syrups.
For Basting Baking
The first is to use them to brush on to cake layers to keep them moist and add flavouring. It is best to add them to cooled gluten free cakes. If the cake isn't gluten free it can be brushed on when warm. The mix of flours in gluten free baking makes them really susceptible to breaking if brushed on when the cake is warm. It will turn it gluey and to mush if done too soon out of the oven.
Using simple syrup as a cake brush is really common in layer cakes and British baking. The syrup can be made from the same flavour as the cake, lemon for example. This will enforce the lemony taste. Alternatively the syrup can be made from another complimenting flavour to give a hint of depth to the cake, like coriander for a lemon cake.
In a lemon cake basting with this lemon simple syrup is a really traditional way of serving an English lemon cake. A quick recipe search will bring countless numbers of syrup drenched lemon cakes.
For Beverage Mixing With Lemon Simple Syrup
The second is as a mixer and flavouring for drinks. This can be both alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
All Ages/ Non-alcoholic Drinks
In the un-spirited variety the lemon simple syrup is commonly mixed with sparkling water or club soda over ice to make an Italian soda. Add a bit of coconut whipped cream (or real cream if it is safe for you) to the ice, sparkling water and flavoured simple syrup and you get a French soda.
Adding the simple syrups we are making here to juices like watermelon and lemon will give you our watermelon lemonade. Using the simple syrup helps to ensure the sugar will dissolve properly in the drink. It means their sweetening will be more consistent and not gritty.
The balanced suspension why simple syrups can be used to sweeten coffees, teas, and dairy free hot chocolate. They mix well and add loads of flavour to both iced, frappe, and hot coffee shop beverages. Peppermint flavoured simple syrups are the best around the winter holidays in a hot chocolate or coffee.
The adult option for beverages is to sweeten and flavour them with simple syrups. Many drinks recipes call for either a plain or flavoured simple syrup. You can buy them in higher end liquor stores, often times in fun and exotic flavours. It is much more economical to make your own for parties and develop your own mixes of syrups for a signature drink.
Make a mint or lime simple syrup for a Mojito. Try a juniper berry, or cucumber one to flavour gin fizzes. Lemon or watermelon are perfect in vodka sodas. At Christmas we do a killer gingerbread spice syrup and make "gin"gerbread cocktails.
Simple syrups are a staple of a bartender's stock. Making your own allows control over what kind of sugar and flavourings are being used for your tastes and allergies.
Lemon Simple Syrup Adaptations for Vegans
Choose a sugar that is organic and free from animal products in the processing of the sugar. This may mean contacting the sugar company is needed to ensure your sugar is vegan friendly. Generally organic sugar is safe for a vegan diet.
In North America, sugar can be processed with bone char to help refine it and get that bright white colour. It is becoming less and less popular with consumers and sugar companies are moving away from this processing process. Awareness of this method of refining when making any kind of vegan food. This is one reason many baked goods and candies are not vegan. other reasons are dyes used and the shellac shell on candies and sprinkles.
In Europe, EU standards dictate that bone char is not to be used in sugar processing. Therfore, European sugars do not need to be vetted for this particular ingredient.
Can Sugar Substitutes Be Used to Make Lemon Simple Syrup?
Yes! Various other kinds of sugar substitutes can be used to make lemon simple syrup.
Splenda, Monkfruit sweetner, and Stevia are all able to be used. They will affect how much of the syrup you use though as all the sweetners pack a sweeter punch than sugar itself. When adding to anything use a bit more of the flavourings by ¼ -⅓ than you would with sugar and reduce the amount of syrup used in any given recipe.
Start by using ⅓ of the recipe amount of syrup added. Particularly with drinks this is important as it is more noticeable. Add as needed to your taste but start small and go slowly. Increasing the flavouring in the syrup, less can be used but the same desired taste maintained.
Storage may also be reduced to 48-72 hours in the fridge when using sugar substitutes.
Storage of Simple Syrups
Making the lemon simple syrup ahead for a party is a great idea. Never store prepared simple syrups on the counter. They will go mouldy after time and refrigeration is the safest method of storage.
In a food safe stoppered bottle the lemon simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days. Ikea sells fantastic stoppered bottles I love to use for simple syrups. The Korken bottles are great for simple syrups and vanilla extract. They come in various sizes, the smaller ones 17 oz ones tend to be the best for this purpose
Simple syrups should not be frozen as they aren't suitable for it. The suspension of the sugar in the water may be changed with the freezing of the liquid. Never freeze liquid in a stoppered bottle for safety reasons.
Other Recipes You May Like
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- 3 lemons worth of zest
- 1 C water if using lemon juice reduce water to total 1 cup when combining lemon juice and water
- 1 C granulated sugar
- ¼ C lemon juice optional **see notes
- Put the lemon zest in a small pot.
- Measure out 1C water. (or water and lemon juice to total 1 cup)
- Pour into a small pot.
- Add 1C sugar. Stir.
- Place the pot on the stove and use medium low heat. Stir with a spoon and warm only until sugar has just dissolved. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat. Let sit for 15 mins to cool.
- Once cool, strain the liquid using a fine mesh sieve and let cool
- Using a funnel pour cooled syrup into a lidded or stoppered jar.
- Store in the fridge for up to a week.