I'm never sure whether it's worth passing on little tips like this, because once you start using them they seems so obvious. But, for years I was completely unaware of simple syrup, so I can only figure other people must still be, too.
I've lived in the South all my life, and for all my life I've heard complaints about how once iced tea has been cooled it's impossible to sweeten it. These complaints usually come when I'm traveling in the North with fellow Southerners or here at home when eating at one of those snooty upscale places that have the nerve to say, "we only have unsweet tea." And I'll watch as a dedicated sweet-tea lover dumps packet after packet of sugar into the glass, only to have it sink undissolved to the bottom, leaving a glass of unsweet tea with an inch of sugar sludge at the bottom.
I gave up on trying to sweeten tea with granulated sugar many years ago and just drink it unsweetened--which is fine with me, since I like both sweet and unsweet tea. But, my openmindedness seems to be uncommon: most people are either dogmatically sweet or unsweet in their preferences and abhor the other kind. This was always a problem when people would drop by my house unexpectedly: I like to offer them something to drink, and most people like iced tea when they're not up for something alcoholic, but my visitors always seem equally split between the sweet and unsweet camps.
But not long ago, while trying out recipes for various summertime drinks like the mojito, I stumbled across a trick that is perfect for sweetening even the iciest-cold iced tea: simple syrup.
Simple syrup is just plain old sugar dissolved in a small amount of water. But, for sweetening drinks, it's magic: unlike regular sugar, the syrup blends right in and merges with the cold liquid. You can use it for all sort of alcoholic drinks, too, like margaritas and daiquiris, and stop messing around with those sickly-sweet mixes.
So, now I always have pitcher of unsweet iced tea in my fridge along with a little container of simple syrup. Pour a splash of syrup in the bottom of a glass, add ice and unsweet tea, and even the most die-hard sweet tea fan will be satisfied.
Now if we could just get those snooty restaurants to start putting little pitchers of simple syrup on the table . . .
Use a 1-to-1 ratio of sugar to water. So, to make 2 cups, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and stir in 1 cup of sugar, stirring till the sugar is fully disolved. Cool and store in a closed container in the refrigerator.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Posted at 9:12 AM