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How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft

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How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft
Brown sugar can become hard when exposed to air, making it difficult to measure and to incorporate into recipes. As delicious as it is, you don’t really want to find a chunk of unincorporated brown sugar in your next cake or cookie! Brown sugar’s high moisture content is what keeps it soft and that moisture begins to evaporate when exposed to their air, causing the sugar to harden. The sugar granules in brown sugar are coated with molasses – that’s what gives it its color and flavor, if you want to try making your own – and as it dries, that coating becomes very sticky, creating the clumps that you just don’t get in white sugar.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep brown sugar soft and fresh until you’re ready to use it.

How to Store Brown Sugar

The best way to store brown sugar is in an airtight container, which will trap all the moisture in the sugar and keep it soft. I like to transfer mine to a more solid container from the plastic bag that it comes in, as the bags are susceptible to small rips that can let in air. If you don’t have a container with an airtight lid available (some containers seem to lose their airtightness over time), place a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the container before pressing the lid into place.

How to Re-Soften Brown Sugar

If your brown sugar is hard, dry or lumpy, you’re going to need to resoften it before you can use it. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to do this.

  • Instant Fix: If you need your sure right away, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and place a moist , but not soaking wet, paper towel over it. Microwave for about 20 seconds, then stir. Repeat, if needed, until sugar has softened. You’ll need to wait until the sugar has softened to measure it properly, so put more in the bowl than you think you’ll need.
  • Overnight fix: Put sugar in an airtight container and place a slice of fresh bread or 1-2 slices of fresh apples on top. Close the container and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours. Remove the bread/apples and stir the sugar. Repeat if needed. This method is good if you have a little extra time and need to soften quite a bit of sugar.
  • Long Term Fix: To prevent sugar from drying out in the long term, buy a terracotta sugar saver and soak it in water. Dry off the outside of the disc and place it in a container with the sugar. Unlike the bread and apple, the disc can be left in with the sugar for months and will keep the sugar soft and usable. You will still need to store your sugar in an airtight container.

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11 Comments
  • angorian
    June 26, 2007

    A wedge of apple will nicely soften brown sugar if left in overnight. The ceramic discs have the advantage that if you forget about them they don’t go mouldy though.

  • Shannon
    June 26, 2007

    I’ve always just used a slice of bread in mine. It works like a charm every time. By the next morning the bread is hard and the sugar is soft. I only had a problem once where the bread went bad and then the sugar went bad. I guess I usually go through my brown sugar quickly enough so it’s not a problem. It’s a great way to use up the end of the bread if you don’t like it or only have one piece left!

  • lisa
    June 26, 2007

    I use a piece of orange peel in my brown sugar. The sugar’s beautifully moist again after a few hours.

  • jocelyn
    June 26, 2007

    those terra cotta discs never worked for me. i’ve left a slice of bread in my brown sugar for inexplicably indefinite amounts of time and it never goes bad and the sugar stays perfect!

  • cybele
    June 26, 2007

    When my brown sugar gets hard, I whack it until it’s in bite sized chunks and eat it like it’s maple sugar candy. Not that mine ever sticks around long enough to get hard.

  • Robert M Kraus
    September 19, 2008

    Is there a way to dry out brown sugar and at the same time keep it granular? It then sprinkles very readily on oatmeal. Please advise me.

    Sincerely

    Robert M Kraus
    Akron Ohio

  • rzzldzzl
    February 9, 2009

    Did you say that when your brown sugar gets hard you whack him and eat him like maple syrup? Hmmm. Can we date?

  • brownsugar
    November 19, 2010

    ..someone said brown sugar discs won’t go mouldy… I keep my brown sugar in a ziplock bag, inside an airtight container then place the brown sugar disc on top of the bag.. so the dic dosn’t get sticky.. i’be been doing this for years.. but this time when i opened the container my disc was covered in black spots of mould! gross fuzzy black spots. ๐Ÿ™ what in the would would have caused this?

  • Katrinka
    June 20, 2011

    Marshmallows! I’ve always used 2 jumbo marshmallows and it works like a charm. ๐Ÿ™‚ Marshmallows last a long time – which works for the long-term.

  • Baker
    February 10, 2013

    I also have thrown away 2brown sugar discs as they have gone mouldy.. And I also keep my sugar in a ziplock , the ziplock inside an airtight container.. This way the disc won’t get sticky and messy.. But they do go mouldy.. Wondering if its something to do with the water?

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