Inspired by conversations with family, friends, students, and our livestream cooking series– we’re sharing tips and tricks that make navigating our kitchens easier, equipping us with independence and confidence and making it more fun.
HOW TO KEEP BROWN SUGAR SOFT
Today: Take charge of your ingredients; store your brown sugar without drying out and without the clumps.
The brown sugar packaging is downright irresponsible, nonsensical, just plain useless —that’s the only way to put it. White sugar flows out of its packaging neatly and without a problem. But not brown sugar! It sticks together, and the mouth of the box isn’t big enough to allow you to stick in your hand and break up the clumps. (Some brands of brown sugar come in sealable plastic bags, but they don’t work much better—ever get a granule of sugar stuck in the lip of the bag, rendering it impossible to close?) Worst yet, it’s difficult to close cardboard boxes effectively, causing the sugar to harden. You definitely don’t want that kind of inconvenient surprise when you’re craving your favorite chocolate chip cookies.
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 the 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 and as it dries, that coating becomes very sticky, creating the clumps that you 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, place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the container before pressing the lid into place. Mason jars with the swing cap work wonderfully keeping out the air.
How to Re-Soften Brown Sugar
If your brown sugar is hard, dry or lumpy, you’ll need to re-soften it before you can use it. Here are a variety of ways to achieve softening your brown sugar:
Instant Fix: If you need your sugar 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 the 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. A new method I discovered is placing a few marshmallows in the container of brown sugar. All of which have enough moisture to keep the brown sugar soft. Close the container and let it 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.
NOTE: If using the apple or bread methods to keep brown sugar soft, replace the apple or bread once every two or three days to prevent these food items from becoming moldy and affecting the quality of your brown 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.
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