How to Repack Syrup

by Tig Tillinghast

Sometimes customers decide to buy a large amount of syrup to pack into smaller containers. They might do this to make gifts to friends, or they might do this to create smaller sets of supply. That helps them keep their syrup fresh. This post will give some step-by-step directions for packing syrup to make it last as long as it can.

First some useful facts:

– Syrup brought to proper thickness (>67 percent sugar) won’t develop any molds. Any syrup you purchase should already be to this density, so you shouldn’t have to thicken it.

– However, temperature changes can sometimes allow a microlayer of water to form on top of that syrup through condensation. That sugary water layer is a perfect environment for things to grow.

– Syrup packed between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit will start off sterile, making it very difficult for growths to take hold, so long as the container is air-tight.

– Raising syrup past 190 degrees can cause certain particles called sugar sand to come out of solution, causing the syrup to become a little cloudy. This affects appearances, but not flavor or texture.

– Hot syrup spilled on people will continue to burn for a great deal of time. It is much more dangerous than hot water, so you need to take great care not to allow the hot syrup to touch anyone.

So, with these facts in mind, here is a series of steps to take a gallon of syrup and repack it – a common task.

(How NOT to heat of syrup. John with is “mini evaporator”)

1- Take your smaller containers and make sure they are clean. My favorite smaller container is the classic Ball jar – either a quart or a pint. Boiling them is best, but some people just pour the hot syrup right in out of the package, as it will sterilize anything inside. For more on container choices, click <a href=”/2008/11/29/containers-and-maple-syrup.aspx”>here</a>.

2- Set them aside, with caps off or ready to be taken off, in a place where you can comfortably and safely pour.

3- Heat up the syrup in a stovetop pot that has a very steady handle, or better still, two handles. Insert a candy thermometer in the fluid so you can get a sense for how quickly it is heating up. Optimally, you will just hit 190 degrees. The longer that syrup is hot, the darker it will get, and the thicker it will get, although it would take some time to increase the syrup’s grade or make it so thick as to cause texture problems.

4- Once the syrup makes it to temperature, turn off the heat. Then, pour the syrup into the containers, trying to leave only a little space left over. These relatively full containers will provide less room for air, which can hold moisture that can later condense. You will spill some syrup in this process; just make sure you don’t spill it on you.

5- Immediately affix the caps onto the containers and tighten them. If you are using jars, you will likely want to be wearing gloves for this, as they get quite hot. If you would rather not wear gloves, you might try putting the caps on after each pour, as the glass will not yet have absorbed as much heat from the syrup.

6- Turn the containers over on their sides, so that the heat of the syrup can sterilize the underside of the cap. Leave them there for 10 minutes, and then turn them upright.

7- Space the containers out to cool. If you stick them next to each other, they will take a great deal longer to cool, and they will darken.

Once you complete this process, you can use the smaller containers one at a time to ensure your year’s syrup supply lasts without growing anything interesting on top. In general, you can expect packed syrup to last about a year before it does something bad – usually developing a growth or sometimes just fermenting. Once you open syrup, put it in the refrigerator, and so long as it doesn’t develop a layer of moister on top, it will last a similar amount of time.

Oldtimers say that when syrup molds over, you can cohesively pour off the junk on top and just continue to use it. We prefer to just make more. If your syrup ferments, it is a sad and completely lost cause.