- In a small saucepan, combine your water and herb leaves, bring to a boil, remove from heat then allow to steep for 15 - 30 minutes. (If you're using fruit juices these infused juices can also be used as interesting cocktail mixers after straining!)
- Add your sugar then cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, DO NOT BOIL. Remove from the burner immediately and let cool, if you overcook or boil the sugar water your syrup will form sugar crystals.
- Strain through a sieve into your sterilized jar.
- Your infused syrup will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks up to a month. I hear if you add an ounce of vodka or a vitamin C tablet they will keep a bit longer.** Rich simple syrups can last up to 6 months. Keep in mind that using fruit juices as your syrup liquid could affect shelf life so check for mold or just make as much as you will use in a week or so. I will often make just enough for the cocktails I'm serving that day.
- This heat method also works well for citrus zest syrups. For the actual fruit I prefer the cold process recipe below but this heat process will work if you're in a time crunch. HOWEVER, you do need to simmer the fruit until it breaks down, not just until the sugar dissolves. This means standing over the mixture to make sure it doesn't burn or boil. Frankly, the cold process for fruits is easier, not to mention superior in taste.
- When I substitute a fruit juice for the water I reduce the amount of sugar because reducing fruit juice intensifies it's sugars. For sweeter juices I use no added sugar at all, for more tart or sour juices I reduce the sugar to quarter cup or less.
- Reducing the sugar requires that you simmer the herb infused juice instead of just heating until the sugar dissolves (because there's little or no sugar to form the syrup except that in the juice itself!) I simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to the viscosity I want, usually half the liquid volume.
- Keep a close eye on the reduction because once it gets to the syrup point it can easily turn to molasses or even burn. Test it by taking a spoonful of syrup and dropping back into the pan. When it's ready, take it off the heat, cool it and bottle.
- Add your chopped fruit and sugar to a mixing bowl. Smash it all together with your potato masher and let this sit for an hour. After an hour, smash it all up a little bit more and let it sit in the fridge for another hour or even overnight. Smash it up again.
- Pour this mixture into the quart jar, add the water and then shake like a madman until the sugar completely dissolves. Let this sit in the fridge for a bit (overnight is best) then shake it up again.
- Strain again if small seeds are involved (berries come to mind), this time through cheesecloth.
- Bottle and store in the refrigerator.
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