Just a note about infused syrups.

I just posted a detailed recipe for lemon syrup/cordial on April 13…along with variations.

I read an article today in one of my favorite magazines, IMBIBE, (,  about making Ginger syrup and I had an important issue with a part of the process.

First, I will explain my method of making infused syrups. It generally begins with making a rich simple syrup. That means more sugar and less water. We are making a syrup, not sugar water. The reason for this is that we are trying to just make the sugar dissolved. and the reason for that is granulated sugar does not dissolve well in cold or even room  temperature spirits or drinks. The idea is to make liquid sugar compact and ready to mix.

So the less water, the more it is like liquid sugar…like pure sugar. What you really want in any drink that would originally call for granulated sugar.

That said, we can now proceed to play with that base of liquid sugar by using things like ginger to flavor the liquid sugar, or using something like lemon juice or rice vinegar instead of water thus creating an acidic sugar….or cordial type syrup or sour.

When making an infusion such as lemon syrup or ginger syrup, you have to cook the syrup to help dissolve the sugar and to cook off some of the water. This forces the sugar and water to melt and become one.

The problem here is that when we cook things we can lose some of the fresh qualities and flavors that we are trying to capture.

Peeled Fresh Ginger
Minced Ginger

That brings me to a basic tenet I have when making these syrups and that is I heat the syrup without the ginger or lemon zest and heat it to just below simmer…I dont want to boil or simmer it, but rather just help the sugar dissolve. Those things do not need to be in the syrup while cooking and will ruin that flavor you are trying to capture.

REMOVE THE SYRUP FROM THE HEAT before you add the grated ginger or lemon zest and allow to steep like tea and cool. Then strain.

This makes your ginger syrup taste like real fresh ginger and your lemon syrup like lemons.

That brings me back to the article on ginger syrup.  It calls for adding the ginger during the cooking process and making it one step, when it should be a two step process. Another article I read just squeezes ginger juice which is actually wasteful, difficult and does not impart the solid ginger flavor and nose that you are looking for.

That one step makes a huge difference in your ginger syrup tasting and smelling like fresh ginger, and not candied ginger…But of course if you want a candied ginger flavor, which is a delicious, but totally different, flavor then you would want to cook the ginger with the syrup.

Steeping Grated Ginger in Cooled Syrup

Also, this 2 step process only applies to fresh ingredients, not dry spices like cinnamon or allspice which actually benefit from heating during the process.



2 Cups Minced Fresh Ginger

4 Cups Rich Simple Syrup (2-1)

Make rich syrup. Peel and mince ginger…I use a food processor to chop it finely to release all the ginger flavor and juice. Add this to cooled syrup and steep for one hour. Stir it a few times. Fine strain this after steeping. Store in refrigerator indefinitely.

This is a rough estimate of ingredients. a little more or less ginger will be just fine. Some ginger may be less powerful and you may wish to use more. It wont hurt it.


1 Part Rich Ginger Syrup

1 Part Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Parts Ice Water

Add to shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain over fresh iced highball/tall glass.

Garnish with slice of lemon.

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