How long do your products last?
All Small Hand Foods bottles have a code printed on them that indicates the date they were made. There is no “best by” date because as long as the seal is not compromised, the syrup inside them will remain safe to drink for many years. The seal can be compromised if an unopened bottle is dropped, held in a hot car, or otherwise damaged. The syrup will change over time, however. This is especially apparent with the Pineapple Gum Syrup, as the clear glass bottles allow UV rays to penetrate and begin to darken the color of the pineapple juice. This will not make the syrup unsafe to drink, but it may not taste as “fresh” as it would closer to the manufacture date.
Once opened, a bottle of Small Hand Foods syrup can last anywhere from a
few weeks to a few months, depending on storage conditions. Temperature,
frequent opening and closing, and local bacteria and yeasts can all affect the life
of an opened bottle of syrup. Kept refrigerated and used only now and then, as
they might be in someone’s home, syrups may last a couple months. Kept at
room temperature and used frequently, as they would be in a bar setting, bottles
will usually last a couple of weeks. In either case, it’s easy to tell when syrup
has gone off: if it develops mold, gets fizzy, or smells like cider vinegar, throw
it out. Our syrups are made from food, so treat them as such and your cocktail
experience will benefit!
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Are all of your products available year round?
Our Orgeat, Gum Syrup, and Pineapple Gum Syrup are all available year round.
Other products, like Raspberry Gum and Grenadine, are made from seasonal
fruit and subject to availability. Once our supply of a seasonal product has run
out, we have to wait for the next season to roll around before we can replenish
our stock. If you can’t find the syrup you’re looking for and want to know when
it will be available again, send us an email. We usually know roughly when we’ll
be able to produce our next batch of a seasonal syrup and can let you know
when to expect it back on the shelves.
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What is “gum?” What is “gomme?”
“Gum” in our syrups refers to gum arabic, the resin from the gum acacia tree.
It has little flavor and is used to add viscosity to cocktails. It was prevalent in
cocktail books in the late 1800s, but by the 1920s, bartenders tended to favor
straight simple syrup as it was far cheaper and easier to make. However, simple
syrup cannot compare to the lush texture and viscosity of a true gum syrup.
Using it in spirit-forward cocktails like Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs and Juleps
transform flavorful yet thin cocktails into rich, luscious examples.
As for the spelling, “gomme” is the French word for gum. Several French words
migrated into bartending guides, gomme as well as orgeat (literally barley, but
evolved into almond syrup) and grenadine (from grenade, pomegranate) as well
as bartending terms like frappé. Being the grammar nerd that Jennifer is, she
couldn’t put two languages in the same product title. If she had gone French, the
Pineapple Gum Syrup label would have read “Gomme D’Ananas,” and then no
one would have known what it was. As for the Orgeat, Jennifer felt the French
word had come into the common lexicon enough to warrant its use.
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Are your products gluten-free? Vegan? What’s with the disclaimer on the label?
The FDA requires many specifics regarding the labeling of packaged food.
One requirement is that if any equipment used to make food ever comes in
contact with potential allergens this must be clearly stated on the label. Small
Hand Foods syrups are made on equipment that is shared among several food
producers. The warning on our labels does not mean that the listed allergens
are definitely in the syrups. The equipment used to cook and bottle the syrups is
thoroughly cleaned after every use.
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Do you make any sugar-free syrups?
No. We aim to create the best possible versions of cocktail ingredients used
before prohibition. Artificial sweeteners were not available in the United States
until the 1950s, and they lack the viscosity of cane sugar syrups. A similar texture
can be obtained via other thickeners and emulsifiers, but those methods and
ingredients are decidedly modern and not in keeping with Small Hand Foods’
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Do you make a Cream of Coconut?
We actually have made a Cream of Coconut, but we don’t sell it widely. Coconut
oil is solid at room temperature, so a true Cream of Coconut must be heated
and shaken before use. This makes it a hard product to distribute and sell
through retail stores. If you are interested in commissioning a batch of Cream of
Coconut, drop us an email.
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Have you made or will you make syrup from paw-paw? How about mangosteen?
Coco de Mer?
Possibly, but probably not. We love cool new fruit, but the philosophy of Small
Hand Foods is to either revive old cocktail ingredients that have become defunct,
or to make existing but terrible incarnations (like grenadine) well, using good
ingredients. If you are interested in contracting us to make a small batch of
golden gooseberry syrup then sure, let’s talk. But it’s not something we’ll be
releasing anytime soon.
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Can your syrups be used for anything other than cocktails?
Definitely. Small Hand Foods syrups are great to use in non-alcoholic drinks:
experiment using them mixed with fresh fruit, juices, sparkling water… whatever
you have on hand. A number of chefs have cooked and baked with our syrups,
as well. They’re wonderful in batters, vinaigrettes, sorbets…
If you put together a recipe that you like, please send it our way! We may add
it to our website in a future ‘Recipes’ section, to highlight other uses for our
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