Stock syrup

Stock syrup

How to Cook Desserts
500 ml
Peter Cassidy

This basic syrup can be made in a large quantity and kept in the fridge for general purpose use, such as making coulis or macerating fruit.


Quantity Ingredient
250g granulated sugar
500ml water


  1. Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Place over a low heat to dissolve the sugar, using the handle of a wooden spoon to gently agitate it and prevent it from ‘caking’ on the bottom of the pan. Avoid splashing syrup up the sides.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down the sides of the pan, to wash any remaining sugar crystals down into the syrup.
  3. Turn the heat up and do not stir from this point. Bring the syrup to the boil and boil steadily for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, leave to cool and keep covered until needed.

A note on crystallisation…

  • Sugar crystals attract each other. If a few crystals are still present after the sugar has dissolved, when the syrup is boiled these crystals may contaminate the syrup and turn the dissolved sugar into crystals again, crystallising the entire sugar syrup. If this happens you will need to discard the mixture and start again with fresh ingredients.

    A sound technique will prevent crystallisation. However, when sugar syrups are to be used for very sensitive recipes, then an interfering agent can be added to the syrup when dissolving the sugar. Interfering agents include glucose syrup or some form of acidity such as a few drops of lemon juice or a pinch of cream of tartar. These invert the sugar (sucrose), breaking it down into different sugars (glucose and fructose), which makes the mixture more stable and helps to prevent crystallisation.

Stages in sugar syrup concentration

  • When you are ready to use the syrup, bring it to the boil in a saucepan and boil for the length of time necessary for it to reach the correct temperature and required consistency. This will depend on what the syrup will be used for, ranging from 104–108°C for sugar syrup and sorbets to 194°C for a deep golden caramel.

    Up to the ‘soft ball’ stage (115°C), you can test the consistency by using a teaspoon and your fingers, but take care as the syrup will be hot. Draw the pan off the heat, dip the teaspoon in and take a little of the syrup between the thumb and forefinger and test it.

    Above this temperature the syrup will be too hot to use your fingers, so take a little of it with a teaspoon, drop into a jug of cold water, let cool, then take out and feel it.

Taking a syrup too far…

  • If a syrup is taken to a stage too far, it can be brought back by the addition of a good splash of water so the sugar density is diluted again. This can only be done if the syrup has not yet taken on colour. Once colour is achieved, the caramel can be stopped, but there is no going back to a previous stage.

A note on safety…

  • Take care when making and using sugar syrups as the temperature of the syrup goes well above 100ºC.
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