Sirop de Citron

March 22, 2010

Being the truly dedicated barfly I am, I tend to ask my bartenders what new, exciting flavors they’re looking to play with.  While sirop de citron was not the first request, it is the first I will write about (though with every intention of tending to the others at a later date).

The first thing you will probably notice if you google ‘sirop de citron’ is that -no shock here- most of the write-ups are in French.  Lucky for me, I studied French oh so many years ago, and internet translators could fill in the rest.  The second thing you will notice is more of a problem – not one recipe coincides.  Sure, they all have lemon and sugar, but some call for water; some call for boiling, others don’t; some demand peeling and juicing, others like slicing better.  So what to do?  Reduce every recipe down to 1 lemon : sugar : water ratios and see who’s the most dissimilar of course.

Recipe 1:

1 lemon : 200g sugar : unknown quantity of water

Thinly slice the lemon and macerate with sugar for 2-3 days, then bring the mixture to a simmer, strain, and add water.

Thanks to Erik Ellestad for this one – it’s basically the same, though I have to admit I’m a bit discontent with the thought of adding an unknown quantity of water to my yield,  so I hope to nail down a tolerable ratio here.

Recipe 2:

1 lemon : 133g sugar

Thinly slice the lemon and macerate with sugar for 3-4 days, then boil the mixture for 5 minutes, strain.

This is a recipe from the French Pause Cuisine.  Less sugar, more cooking, and no water, but otherwise pretty similar.

Recipe 3:

1 lemon : 94g sugar : 31mL water

Peel the lemon, combine with sugar and water and boil mixture for 5 minutes.  Add the juice from the lemon, then macerate for several days and strain.

This recipe from the French Atelier Naturel avoids using the pith of the lemon, which should yield a less bitter syrup, but the cost is a complex process (and a sticky mess dealing with a 3:1 sugar syrup).

Only one of the recipes specifies stirring the lemons and juice, however, I plan on doing this every day for all three mixtures.  I will let all of them macerate 3 days, then compare sweetness, bitterness, strength of flavor, and cooked flavor to see what comes out on top.

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One Response to “Sirop de Citron”


  1. Really? Someone else is thinking about Sirop-de-Citron? Awesome! Well, it is very tasty.

    If I had to estimate on the water, I would say it was around half a cup.

    That’s some serious pith on those lemons!


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