Sunday, June 6, 2010

Simple Gifts

I had a frugal moment at Trader Joe's. I usually use Agave Syrup to sweeten my iced tea, because I like it slightly sweet and sugar doesn't dissolve in the cold tea. I don't like it as sweet as Sweettea (all one word around here, from the Mason-Dixon line on south.) But while poking around at Joe's, I saw a bottle of labeled "Simple Syrup" for about $2.59 or thereabouts. (Agave syrup ain't cheap either.) Now simple syrup is commonly used by bartenders to sweeten cocktails; it is a mixture of sugar and water. I can buy five pounds of sugar for about $2.59. But what a great idea - a bottle of syrup to use to make my tea sweet- for pennies! (My inner Scrooge was delighted - more money left for goat cheese and dark chocolate!) I decided to make my own simple syrup for summer use, recipes for which are easily obtained in any classic cookbook.
I made mine by bringing to a boil one cup sugar and one cup water.(You can also use more sugar or more water. The ratio is up to you. I have seen 2 cups sugar to one cup water but that's way too sweet for me.)Then I let it cool and poured it into a cleaned and sterilized 16 ounce vinegar bottle that I had bought to use to make my infused vinegars.
You can flavor your simple syrups with lemon or orange peel, with a vanilla bean or with all kinds of fruit. When I make lemonade I infuse it with lemon peel. It also makes a nice hostess gift in a pretty bottle along with some nice tea and some lemons. But for my iced tea purposes, I leave it plain. It's decadant and frugal at the same time. It costs pennies to make. I know what's in it. And I feel smug every time I pass that bottle on the shelf at Trader Joe's.


beangirl said...

Being Yankees, we don't really do sweettea (well, plus I can't quite deal with all that sugar consumption so I have to do diet tea).


That is totally awesome. If I had any need (any AT ALL) I would totally be making me some sweet syrup.

I love making stuff that crazy people buy for ridiculous amounts of money. Plus, it does save room for goat cheese. I haven't ever really been able to see my way to making my own goat cheese. And of course, it's a Neccessity.

badmomgoodmom said...

I used to laugh at the 'organic vegan sugar'. Isn't sugarcane vegan?

Then I visited Queensland, Australia. A small animal ran across the highway and ran into a sugar cane filed. Our van driver braked for it and explained that the cane fields were animal habitat.

They harvest the cane with some mean-looking machines. The animals get torn up and their remains end up in the sugar. He says that the cane gets sprayed with all sorts of chemicals, and all of it ends up in the sugar.

Vegan sugar is cut by hand so that there is no animal by-catch.

Simple syrup, even with the organic vegan sugar at TJ's, is still pennies per serving.

AuntieAllyn said...

Brilliant . . . I'm having another "why didn't I think of that" moment. The idea of flavoring the simple syrup withi lemon or mint sounds even better!

yummy supper said...

I love those frugal revelations! Sometimes just taking an extra moment to think of how easy it is to make something at home is like a brilliant light bulb popping into your head:)
Another fun use for flavored simple syrups are homemade snow cones. Always a favorite here!