How to keep 2:1 syrup from crystallizing
This question, asked by a reader, perplexes me because I’ve never had any 2:1 syrup crystallize. In fact, several different times in the past I’ve had a half gallon or so sit in the fridge all winter long with no problem.
The next question, then, is what did I put in it to prevent crystallization. The answer is nothing. Whenever I store syrup—which sometimes happens after I make too much in the fall—I don’t put anything in it. It’s just two parts sugar to one part water.
My suspicion is that people who have problems with crystallization are boiling the water after they measure it. Boiling—even for a short time—causes water loss through evaporation. Even heating the water just short of boiling drives off a lot of water.
The result of the evaporative loss is that the proportions are no longer 2:1—you are trying to dissolve 2 parts of sugar into less than 1 part of water. The sugar dissolves when the water is still hot but then crystallizes when it cools.
So here are my recommendations:
- Don’t boil the water. I use hot tap water or I heat the water only slightly before adding the sugar. Dump the sugar in all at once before the water cools. It takes more stirring, but it works.
- If you insist on boiling the water, add some extra—maybe an ounce or two—to compensate for what is going to boil away.
- Alternatively, you can measure the water after you boil it.
If you have a container of crystallized syrup, you can add water to re-dissolve it or you can feed it to the bees inside an empty super. Either way you don’t have to waste the sugar.