Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tamarind simple syrup

I've been experimenting with making our own tamarind syrup for one of our favorite cocktails from last summer (and my current favorite fall/winter drink) and while I haven't mastered the exact proportions of the original (mine is slightly less sweet) it still works perfectly.

tamarind simple syrup
{tamarind simple syrup}

Now that I have the proportions down (which you should feel free to play with - you can do more sugar if you like it sweeter) I can make a batch in less than 15 minutes. It is worth having on hand, let me tell you.

tamarind simple syrup, bottled
{tamarind simple syrup, bottled}

Tamarind simple syrup (makes ~ 1.75 cups)

4 oz tamarind pulp/paste* (slightly mounded 1/3 cup)
6 oz granulated sugar (generous 3/4 cup)
10 oz water (1 1/4 cup)

:: Put everything into a smallish saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

:: Whisk the boiling syrup briskly for 1 - 2 minutes. Lower the heat slightly if it looks in danger of boiling over! The syrup will become thick and dark brown once it is thoroughly mixed. You really need to use a whisk here, not a wooden spoon.

:: Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool for 10 - 15 minutes. It's easiest to strain if the syrup is hot but not boiling.

:: Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or a few layers of cheesecloth. The syrup will be thick! I use a spatula to help press the syrup through a fine mesh strainer. If you're using fancy tamarind paste that doesn't have seeds and skins, you might not need to strain it.

:: Store in the refrigerator and shake before use. We usually go through it in 2 - 3 weeks but I'm guessing it will hold up a bit longer.

If you don't already have a kitchen scale, you're missing out (we have this Oxo one and it's held up well over the last two years so I'll vouch for it). Trying to scrape tamarind paste into (and then out of) a measuring cup is much more work than slicing off a chunk and weighing it out. I weigh everything directly into the saucepan. I tested and added cup measurements here but only because I love you guys. The good news is you'll end up with something delicious even if your measurements aren't perfect.

tamarind paste
{tamarind paste}

* I get these blocks of tamarind paste from the local Middle Eastern market. It isn't strained and it has seeds in it and it costs less than $5. There are fancier seedless options but they cost more and it's easy enough to strain it after making the syrup. You should also be able to get it at some Mexican markets. Just make sure that whatever you get is 100% tamarind, without any added sugar.

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