Brix Measurements

Is it necessary to buy a brix meter? They are fairly cheap at $19 but is it just another gadget that will sit in the kitchen drawer for making syrups at home? Is there a significant difference if you are off by 1-2 units, say 25-27 brix? If this was temperature, 1-2 degrees would not matter if it were measured in Fahrenheit, but in Celsius it might? Is it a similar comparison?

I don’t have any personal experience in this, myself. Yet.

The impression I get from Tropical Standard is that the more expensive electronic refractometers that cover 0–85 degrees Brix are considerably more practical than the $20 models.

The advantages of having a refractometer seem to be:

  1. you can sugar-adjust those-things-that-can-be-sugar-adjusted on your own

  2. you can be more accurate and consistent than just working with a general purpose recipe, particularly when dealing with seasonal variance in ingredients

Seems like the sort of tool you just don’t need until you definitely need it.

Well the key point out in Tropical Standard is generally to boil the water first to get the exact amount you need, THEN add the sugar. Something I never did before, though I often wondered, like with the Grog Syrup. Also, I was reading more last night and it seems simple 1:1 syrup is about 60 brix but rich is 66? So it seems like a few points on the scale is a considerable amount just like the Celsius scale. Still reading and exploring, learning a lot here, just like with the PDT book from years ago.

I have been using the “boil the water first then add sugar” approach for a long time and it is such a great way to be sure to get the proportions correct— as has been written by many, heating water and sugar on the stove can boil off some of the water— and it and takes too long! Surprised that it has taken this long to appear in print… (or has it been written about elsewhere?— haven’t seen it)

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Yes, common sense and logic evade even the best of us at times. My next step is the cinnamon syrup which I make often. I usually keep it steeping for an hour, and almost tastes like the “Big Red” cinnamon gum of my youth, but in Tropical Standard it says to let stand 12 hours. Its worth a shot since Jet Pilot is one of my all time favorite cocktails and I use that syrup often.

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I recently purchased a cheaper analog refractometer on Amazon. It covers 0-80% Brix and was only $25. My main reason was to test my own syrups and check the ones I’ve been making from Tropical Standard.

It’s easy to use but the gauge can be difficult to read. My assumption is that it’s not 100% accurate, but I still think it has value if you are making your own syrups from fruit and want to try to get it to a certain birx or close. I tested several different syrups I had on hand:

  • Tropical Standard Grenadine: 45
  • Jack Rudy Grenadine: 50
  • Smuggler’s Cove Grenadine: 53
  • Kirkland Agave Syrup: 71
  • 2:1 Simple: 63

The electronic ones would be far more valuable if you are looking to be precise, writing a book, or sharing recipes, but the analog version is a fun tool to play around with and I think it’s worth the $20-25.

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One of the questions I had was the increments, is there a drastic difference between 45 and 50 (like in Celsius vs. Fahrenheit)? Or is it insignificant where you would not be able to notice a difference?