Does Simple Syrup Go Bad?

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If you are one of those people who like whipping up cocktails ever so often, then simple syrup is probably a staple in your bar cabinet or fridge. Simple syrup is in its most basic form sugar water. And because it is in liquid form it is easier to mix with cocktails and even juices to sweeten them up. Simple syrup is made with 1 part water to 1 part sugar. It is boiled together till the sugar completely melts.

Rich simple syrup is made with 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. It has a sweeter taste and a longer shelf life because of the extra sugar in it. The sugar acts as a preservative extending the shelf life by months. Simple syrup is both available in stores and is actually so simple can easily be whipped up at home. Store-bought simple syrup obviously will have a much longer shelf life and can be stored both in the fridge and in the pantry because of the additives used.

Some people add a little bit of vodka to their simple syrup to extend its shelf life. Simple syrup is most commonly used in chilled drinks as it will dissolve better, but it can also be used in desserts and as toppings in baked goods or even in gravies that require some sweetener. You can also add flavoring to your simple syrup like mint, ginger, vanilla, and so on.

Does Simple Syrup Go Bad?

Yes. simple syrup will go bad. While sugar by itself will not go bad, it is what extends the shelf life of simple syrup, in combination with water it will go bad. In fact, the rich simple syrup has a much longer shelf life because of the extra sugar in it. Sugar is a natural preservative but water as we know can get contaminated. The simple syrup needs to be stored properly to ensure that it does not spoil soon.

How Long Does Simple Syrup Last?

  • Simple syrup has a pretty decent shelf life and can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year, depending on a number of conditions like storage, how it has been made, how much sugar it has, and the temperature it has been exposed to among others.
  • Homemade simple syrup that has been made with 1 part sugar to 1 part water will last for about a month in the fridge. This is for simple syrup that has been made by boiling the sugar and water together. This is the hot process.
  • The cold process of making simple syrup does not involve heat. Here sugar and water are stirred together without any heating until the sugar dissolves. This process obviously takes a longer time to make. In the hot process, heating the water and sugar sterilizes it and therefore has a longer shelf life. Simple syrup made with the cold process will last for about 2 weeks.
  • Rich simple syrup, made with 2 parts sugar to 1 part water will last for about 6 months in the fridge.
  • Store-bought simple syrup obviously has a much longer shelf life and can last for anywhere between 6 months to a year. Store-bought simple does not need to be refrigerated, but it can be.
  • If you want your simple syrup to last for a really long time, canning it will extend its shelf life if you know how to do it and have the tools for it. Canned simply syrup can last for about a year and even more if stored properly.
  • Another option is to freeze it. Simple syrup freezes really well and can last in the freezer for up to a year. Rich simple syrup does not freeze as well due to the presence of more sugar, which tend to crystallize.
Type of Simple SyrupPantryFridgeFreezer
1 sugar : 1 water homemade simple syrup (hot process)
1 month1 year
1 sugar : 1 water homemade simple syrup (cold process)
1 week1 year
2 sugars : 1 water homemade simple syrup
6 months1 year+
Store-bought simple syrup
1 year
Canned simple syrup1 year +

The above table is just an estimate, and the actual numbers will vary depending on storage conditions, quality of products, and many other factors. If you are ever in doubt, go with what is on the bottle label. Most store-bought simple syrup bottles will come with a best-by or sell-by date. This is the date the product is considered to reach peak quality, after which it starts to slowly decline. This date does not indicate the date of spoilage, it just gives an estimate of when it will taste the best. Simple syrup is fairly simple to make, if you think yours is spoilt, you can make yourself a fresh batch.

How Best To Store Simple Syrup?

  • It is pretty straightforward to store simple syrup if you want it to stay sweet and fresh and not spoil ahead of its time.
  • Whatever type of simple syrup and whatever method you use to make it, the most important thing is to store your simple syrup in a dry, airtight container with the lid tightly closed.
  • When making your simple syrup, let it cool before pouring it into an airtight glass or plastic bottle. Keep it in the fridge and it will retain quality for as long as possible.
  • Your simple syrup will be fine in the pantry for a day or two, but if it’s longer than that or if you live in a very hot climate, your syrup is going to lose flavor and go bad.
  • Your store-bought simple syrup can be stored in the bottle it came in. It can also be stored in your bar cabinet or pantry as long as it is away from direct heat and sunlight. But it is always better to store your simple syrup in the fridge, as you are not only assured of it being safe and not spoiling but also if you use simple syrup for cold juices and cocktails, a cold simple syrup will enhance the taste and keep your drink cold.
  • If you are going to freeze your simple syrup, transfer your syrup into a freezer-friendly, airtight container.
  • To thaw it, just keep it in the fridge overnight. If you want it immediately, then place the frozen bottle of simple syrup in a bowl of hot water.
  • Once thawed your simple syrup will be good in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.

How To Tell If Your Simple Syrup Has Spoiled?

  • The first indication of spoiled simple syrup is its smell. If the syrup smells foul or has an off smell, instead of its distinctly sweet smell, then it has gone bad.
  • If the syrup has become cloudy or discolored instead of its natural color, then it has probably turned.
  • The water in the simple syrup tends to evaporate, in which case it changes the consistency and make-up of the syrup, making it easy for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow and thrive. If you see mold or any kind of growth on the surface of your simple syrup, it has definitely spoiled.

Simple syrup is a simple and delicious sweetener that is easy to make and just as easy to buy off the shelves. Go with the labels for store-bought ones and take some extra care while storing the homemade ones and you can enjoy your cocktail or dessert for a long time.


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