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Safety with sugar syrups and alcohol.

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#1 Paranoid Android

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 11:21 AM

Hi All,


Please first of all excuse me if this is in the wrong place, it may not even be welcome on any part of the forum but I guess if you dont ask, you dont get. I am not as you will see a professional but it seems there are some clever people on here and I could do with some reassurance. I am not in any food trade but as my profile suggests a little paranoid. Please delete if this is not appropriate or move to a different forum if needed.


Here in the UK (for everyone outside) they have a TV show with a drinks/cocktail segment. I saw a cocktail that I wanted to make for Christmas. The Viceroy Old Fashioned - Here is the recipe:



However on the actual show he explained how he makes it and its slightly more in-depth.


Basically he makes a syrup with Darjeeling Green tea, Bay Leaves, Dark brown Sugar and Orange Bitters. Pours it over some Woodford Reserve and lets it steep for 3 months.

I decided to have a go at the longer, aged version.


I made a 2:1 ratio syrup from slightly different ingredients as I felt I wanted more of a smoky darker taste:


Cold brewed Oolong Loose leaf Green Tea,
Unrefined Molasses Sugar
Fresh Bay Leaves


This made a very glossy thick syrup. I mixed (to taste) an amount of this to a bottle of Islay 10 year Single Malt and a dash of Angostura Bitters. It tastes delicious.


My issue (apologies for not being succinct but I didn't want to leave anything out) is that I went to try some yesterday which has been sitting for about a month now and it has a sediment which looks like mud in wine and some flecks of "stuff" in it.


Do you think this might be spoiled or dangerous to drink? I am not in anyway a professional but I always worry about botulism etc (dont laugh or judge me). My first thought was it might be the sugar crystallizing. But then I wondered if it might be bacteria or mold. One of my concerns since trying to diagnose on the net (thanks Google!!) is that I cold brewed the tea and it was whole loose leaf, could that of been a breeding ground? Anything would have been killed during the syrup boiling process surely?


Should I have kept it in the fridge because of the tea and sugar? I still have some of the syrup in the fridge and that looks fine. I just assumed alcohol wouldn't allow bacteria to form.


I am giving these as presents so I dont want to make anyone ill??


Any help would be most appreciated.



#2 FurFarmandFork


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Posted 16 November 2017 - 10:49 PM

I saw this in some old rum once and had the same thought, I couldn't imagine it was microbial growth but fungi are also continually surprising as to where they can grow (albeit slowly).


If found a study covering fungal growth in spirits that showed glycol has a protective effect for molds.


sprits https://www.research...bf4ba6f89be.pdf


The "mud" seems more like degredation/settling of the organics in your tea, the "flecks" are more likely to be fungal growth that may still be eventually dead (as per the study above) but still forms a visible biofilm before going into a death phase.


Given the environment, generally no common pathogens should be there, the only risk would seemingly be mycotoxins.



Can't tell you whether you should gift it or not. I would probably drink it myself but maybe run it through a coffee filter to remove the "roughage".

Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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