How to Store Simple Syrup

Simple syrups are easy to make, but one tough question lingers: How long does simple syrup last? Don’t miss these storage hacks. 

a jar of homemade simple syrup

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Whether you use them for cakes, coffee or cocktails, simple syrup is a must-have ingredient. Made with a base of sugar and water, they’re inexpensive to make at home and easy to modify with different kinds of sugar and flavorings. 

The best part is they can last a long time if stored properly. Otherwise, bacteria and mold can occur. Proper storage methods are essential to avoid these unsavory contaminants. 

So how long does simple syrup last? The answer is a little murky. No, really — if your creation has a cloudy appearance, toss it. Keep reading for storage tips and more.

A glass bottle filled with red liquid, accompanied by pomegranate seeds and a brass container.

Proper storage techniques 

Always store homemade simple syrups and coffee syrups in the fridge. Even though sugar is a preservative, water and flavoring agents like spices or fresh fruit can either spoil or bring contaminants into the mix, causing it to go bad faster than plain simple syrup. 

Store-bought simple syrups, on the other hand, may contain some preservatives, so they may be able to be stored at room temperature. With commercial brands, it is best to follow the date on the packaging label. 

several jars of different color simple syrups

Best storage containers

An airtight container with a lid is a must to keep syrups as fresh as possible. These are the best storage containers: 

  • Mason jars
  • Bottles
  • Syrup dispensers 
  • Glass containers
  • Plastic containers 

I prefer to use a glass container, but whatever you use, remember a tight seal is important. Pour spouts and corks are porous, which can let air into the container. This could potentially spoil your syrup sooner. 

Deep red syrup drips off a gold spoon into a jar of simple syrup surrounded by ingredients like whole cranberries and cinnamon sticks with a bowl of cranberries and evergreen boughs in background

How long does simple syrup last?

When stored in the refrigerator in a food-safe, airtight container, plain simple syrup can last for about one to three months.

Simple syrup recipes with mix-ins will have a shorter shelf life of about one to two weeks. This is because these additional ingredients are more susceptible to going bad, so they can more easily contaminate the liquid sweetener.

Common flavors include fruit, flowers, herbs or spices, such as:

» Check out some more of our favorite simple syrup variations.

cropped-mint-simple-syrup-recipe-photo.jpg

Signs of spoilage

If you discover that your simple syrup has a cloudy appearance, this is a sign of contamination and it’s time to toss it. The same goes if it has an odor or the flavor is off. Give the syrup a sniff or a taste test — if it smells and tastes okay, it is probably safe to use. 

The best thing to do is write the date you made it on a piece of tape stuck to the jar. This will help you keep track of its expiration date as you monitor it for signs it is going bad. 

While it’s never nice to toss a delicious creation, thankfully, these sweeteners are inexpensive to make. You can easily cook up a new batch or use a simple syrup substitute.

A person pouring red liquid into an ice tray.

Freezing simple syrup

Freezing simple syrups can extend their shelf life. You can put the whole jar or bottle in the freezer, provided it is a freezer-safe container. 

One of the best hacks is to pour it into an ice cube tray to make single-serving cubes that are perfect for a quick cocktail. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge, at room temperature or defrost in the microwave. 

A tray of red and white ice cubes.

Extending the shelf life 

But if you prefer to keep sweeteners at the ready, there are a few things you can do. Sugar content, acids and alcohol, as well as your storage container, can all play a part.

  • Add preservatives like vodka, lemon juice or even vinegar to the syrup, about a quarter ounce per cup of syrup. However, doing this can change the flavor, brix and viscosity. 
  • Make rich, simple syrup. Many recipes use a 1-1 ratio of equal parts sugar to water, but a rich syrup contains a 1.5-1 or 2-1 ratio. With more sugar in the mix, it will not only be thicker and sweeter, but the extra sugar acts as a preservative as well. 
  • Use new jars or sterilize reused containers before adding your creations. Follow tips for canning for the safest way to clean a jar. 
  • Be sure the lid is screwed on tightly. A proper seal prevents air from getting in. 

Next time you make simple syrup, take care to extend the shelf life from the very beginning. You’ll be glad you did because you can enjoy your creations as long as possible. 

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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