Open the door of our fridges in the heat of summer and you are sure to find this short-cut sweetener for any cold drink. Made from sugar and water heated together until the sugar is entirely dissolved, the syrup means no more sugar grains whirling around the bottom of your glass. Feel free to doctor this syrup with other flavors. Add a slice of ginger, a sprig of fresh lemon verbena, basil, or even the spice of peppercorns. Each addition will take the syrup to a new place. Stores covered and refrigerated indefinitely.
1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid is clear and there are no remaining grains of sugar.
2. Cool and refrigerate.
Combine the sugar, 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger and the water in a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid is clear and there are no remaining grains of sugar. Let the syrup stand 10 minutes, then strain out the ginger. Cool the syrup and stir in about 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste.
From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.