I'm making sorbet from scratch (kids' new favorite summer dessert, what's not to love? ☺) and my recipes all call for simple syrup. The directions I've seen for simple syrup all say to bring the water/sugar to a boil, then cool rapidly in an ice bath. I have no time constraints where I would need this to be fast, since my juice is chillin' in the fridge anyway, so is there any reason I can't just dissolve the sugar into the water on the countertop? Seems like both methods end you up in the same place, so is there a reason to heat up the kitchen with boiling?
If you boil the sugar and water together it dissolves much better and you have more homogenized sweetness throughout the food product, be it sorbet or lemonade. I started doing that with a lemonade recipe and was surprised at how different it was using a simple syrup compared to just stirring the sugar into the drink. With the latter method you always end up with some (or a lot of) sugar crystals at the bottom.
So it's sounding like consistency is the issue here? As long as I let everything dissolve thoroughly, then, I should have the same end result. Works for me--any time I don't have to heat the kitchen up is a good thing!
But it won't dissolve thoroughly without heat, is the point. My iced green tea made the old way always has a sludge of sugar crystals in the bottom, no matter how long it's sat. Sugar dissolves more quickly and thoroughly with heat, whereas for salt, temperature doesn't matter. Learned that in high school chemistry class.
Actually, you can dissolve quite a lot of sugar (about 20 tablespoons per cup) into water at 20C (about 70F)--just takes a lot of time. Heat helps a bunch to speed things up, which is why I was assuming my recipes all tell you to boil your syrup.
Sorry, don't mean to pick nits with you after you were so kind as to offer your advice. I'm just sort of a science geek, who hasn't quite figured out how to mix science and cooking yet--but I'm working on it! :)
Not an engineer, (Enjoy the cookingforengineers website) but simple syrup is not the same as allowing the sugar to dissolve in cool (room temp) water. After nearly 50 years of cooking, believe me, it's not the same. Worth heating the kitchen over, IMHO!
For hummingbird feeder I dissolve in cool water, they don't seem to care, but for me...
I did not know about that site--I think I have a new favorite place to go to! (uh oh...) but of course nothing will ever replace DG in my heart! Some great info there!
And in his recipe for limeade, he mentions the undissolved sugar issue, and the heating fix. Sounds like the only reason you would need to heat a simple syrup is to speed dissolution, and there's no other need like for longer storage or anything.
So it's sounding like the general consensus is that if consistency matters, like with a drink, it's definitely worth the time (and heat!) to boil up the syrup. But in my case, where it's going into sorbet which will be kind of crystal-ly anyway, it probably doesn't matter as long as I have the time to let it fully dissolve.
Does that sound about right? After all this I shall have to make some virtual sorbet to share with you all as a thank-you! ;)
My impression is that when it's heated, the sugar disperses more evenly through the liquid and also, as GrammysGardenAZ says, it's smoother and silkier. I would suspect that if the recipe for sorbet calls for simple syrup, failing to heat it would result in the sugar being mixed unevenly in the finished product, so that one spoonful might be sweeter than another. Sort of like a snow cone, where the flavoring and sweetness ends up mostly at the bottom because it's heavier.
When I fill my hummingbird feeders I line both of them up and fill alternately, first one and then the other and then back and forth again several times until I'm done, because if I don't heat the solution well the sugar tends to be at the bottom of the cup and I don't want one feeder to get all the sugar.