By GEO. MACDONALD.
The question as to the real utility of what is known as the "cold process" for making simple syrup, having been considerably agitated in the pharmaceutical journals of the country during the past year, I wish to add my testimony in its favor.
I have, during the past ten years, made considerable quantities of simple syrup by this method, and with uniformly good results. When the operation is properly conducted, the resulting syrup is beautifully bright, of good density, and keeps well (much better than syrups made with heat) even during the hottest summer months. It also recommends itself by its convenience, as by its use the application of heat, and the operations of clarifying and straining are completely dispensed with, with the satisfaction of obtaining, with all this saving of trouble, a really better product.
The apparatus I have been in the habit of using is quite cheap, and simple in construction, and as I do not think it can easily be excelled for real convenience and utility, a description of it may be of interest to some readers of the journal. Before describing it, however, I will say that I obtained the idea for the percolator from an article published in the "Druggists' Circular," ten or twelve years ago. For the receiver, which embodies an application of a well-known natural principle, I claim for myself no particular merit.
The first and most essential part is, of course, the percolator. To make this, take an ordinary iron-bound ten gallon keg, the head of which consists (preferably) of one piece. Take out the head by loosening the hoops, and bore in it with a quarter-inch augur bit, as many holes as you possibly can without weakening it too much—one inch apart is about the proper distance. You now drop the perforated head into the bottom of the keg, taking care that it shall be as nearly as possible equidistant from the true bottom, and as it will not fit perfectly on account of the inequality of the staves, pack around the edges, where necessary, with raw cotton. You then again tighten the upper hoops. Between the true and false bottom there is left a space of about an inch. Bore into this space a hole of suitable size and insert a small faucet, one of the old fashioned, metallic, screwtop kind I have found answers best. With the exception of the flannel strainer, which is placed over the perforated bottom, and which I will afterwards describe, the percolator is now ready.
You now take another ordinary keg of about twenty-five (25) gallons capacity, and insert as near the bottom as possible, a faucet of the kind usually known as a "molasses-gate," and about three or four inches above the middle (or where the bung is usually bored) another faucet of the same description. The object of this will be seen further on. In the head of the keg, near the edge and on the same side, and in a line with the faucets, bore a one-inch hole for the insertion of a funnel. This constitutes the receiver.
To arrange the apparatus for use, obtain a box the width of which will be about six inches greater than the greatest diameter of the large keg, and the length about four or six inches more than the height of the keg. One of the largest sized boxes in which drugs are packed (about three feet in length, two feet in width, and one foot and a half in depth) will be about right. Remove the cover and set it securely on end on another box of proper strength, and about a foot high. In it place the receiver, allowing its edge to project about a couple of inches beyond the front of the box. On the top of this box place the percolator in such a manner that the faucet will be, as nearly as possible, over the centre of the funnel in the receiver. Four thicknesses of fine flannel must now be laid over the perforated bottom of the percolator, and the apparatus is ready for use.
I will here state that the apparatus of the dimensions herein described, is intended for making one hundred and sixty (160) pounds of white sugar into syrup. For making smaller quantities a smaller receiver should be used.
In making simple syrup by this process the proportions used are fourteen (14) pounds avoirdupois of white sugar to one gallon of water, which, as there is little loss by evaporation, furnishes a result which approximates very closely with that of the pharmacopoeia.
In making syrup, the operator may either weigh and measure out the requisite quantities of sugar and water beforehand, or he may keep account of the relative quantities used during the progress of the operation. The method of procedure is this: Put into the percolator as much sugar as it will hold, being careful not to disarrange the flannel strainer, and add water till it is full. Let stand about half an hour, or until the sugar has absorbed as much of the water as it will, and then open the faucet so that the syrup may pass through either in a very thin stream, or in a rapid succession of drops, and leave it so until there is no more water in the percolator. Then close the faucet, refill with sugar and water, and proceed as before and continue until all the water necessary for the sugar has been added. If the operation has been properly conducted (and a little experience will ensure this) it will be found that after the last portion of water has been added and passed into the receiver, that the percolator is half, or perhaps two-thirds full of undissolved sugar. And here will be seen the purpose for which the upper faucet in the receiver was designed. The syrup that passes into the receiver is not of uniform density, and the lighter portions, as a matter of course, will be found at the top. The upper layers are usually quite thin. These are drawn off by the upper faucet and poured upon the undissolved sugar, a gallon at a time until all has passed into the receiver. The receiver is then taken down, laid upon its side on the floor and well shaken until all the parts are thoroughly mixed, when it is again to be placed in position to be drawn from as required.
This method is especially to be recommended to dealers who sell large quantities of soda water, and it requires neither great skill nor close attention, does away with the necessity for the use of fire during the hot summer months, and furnishes a product which is in every respect unexceptionable.
Cairo, Ill., Oct. 12th, 1871.
The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).