In Europe syrups are frequently added to water or a lemon flavored soda as a refreshing drink. Most of them seem a bit fake to me with their bright colors though the one made on the farm I stayed at in Belgium last summer was lovely.
I'd love to have a discussion here for all kinds of homemade syrups, whether they are used for drinks, on pancakes, desserts, or medicinal. Some recipes call for storing in the fridge while others can be canned or are shelf stable on their own.
I have made elderberry syrup, black currant syrup, and a mint/vinegar syrup called Sekanjabin. Those seem to work best for drinks. A woman I know in France taught me how to make a rosemary and thyme cough syrup as well.
The recipe for the black currant syrup was super simple. It alternated a cup of sugar with a cup of berries using a total of 4 cups berries and 5 cups sugar. It sat for six weeks in my spare fridge before straining.
"Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool. Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup). The syrup stores without refrigeration." is the recipe I have used. It's from this website which has a few other historical drink recipes that I have not tried. http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/drinks.html
Whenever the field of a local organic farm gets swamped in dandylions I'm torn between making dandylion syrup and dandylion portwine. The syrup is simple, but fiddly: you need to have about a literjug full of flowerpetals, without the green (that gives a bitter flavour), put that in about a liter of water with a sliced organic lemon and a spliced vanillapod. Let steep overnight, and in the morning bring to a boil, sieve and add 500 grams of sugar. Will keep for a long time. If you boil it to long, it looses much of its flavour though.
I'm in a mind to do the same with lavender this year. Or roses...
Simple syrup is an essential ingredient in cocktails and other beverages because it blends so well with other liquids, it can be used anywhere you want to dissolve sugar. Use it for sweetening cold drinks where regular sugar wouldn't normally dissolve with ease. It can be made and stored in the fridge for adding to iced tea, coffee or fruit juice drinks.
When you learn how easy it is, you'll end up creating all different types of amazing fruit and herb syrups for your use at home.
If something goes well with sweets, it will flavor simple syrup. Consider trying some of these: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit zest, lavender, rosemary, basil, ginger, vanilla bean, peppercorns, chili peppers [fresh or dried], any sort of fruit, edible flowers.
Simple syrup is made from one part water to one part white granulated sugar (1:1). Heat the water first, before adding the sugar. Heating the sugar and water together takes longer to heat. It's not necessary to bring the water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, let the syrup cool. Store it in a glass container in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. To flavor simple syrup add your herbs, spices, or citrus rind to the hot simple syrup. If you add the additional ingredients the moment the sugar dissolves and leave it there until it cools, the added ingredients will steep in the hot liquid, infusing the flavor. Strain and put in the glass container.
Another method is to turn the heat down to low, add in your chosen flavorings and simmer for at least a half hour. Stir it occasionally. This is perfect for zest strips, thinly sliced ginger, and chilis - things you would like to eat later.
Rich simple syrup: For a thicker, heavier syrup, simply adjust the proportions using a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio.
You can experiment using other sugars or any flavoring you desire.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner