How maddening to reach for the brown sugar, expecting it to be soft and fluffy, only to find a rock-hard clump in the bottom of the box. Or how about this: Brown sugar is on sale, so you stock up. Even without opening the bags or boxes left on the shelf, the contents, in time, turn brick-hard. Should you toss the bricks into the garbage? Better idea: Learn how to keep brown sugar soft and fluffy — and how to soften after it has hardened.
Brown sugar is white sugar plus molasses. Molasses is what gives brown sugar its distinct color, flavor and moisture. Although there is a trace amount of various nutrients in brown sugar that come from molasses, brown sugar is not considered healthier than other sugars.
Unlike regular white granulated sugar, brown sugar hardens when exposed to air. The moisture in the molasses dries out, leaving a thick, sticky residue. This causes the sugar crystals to stick to themselves, and eventually, the whole thing turns into a big, hard-as-a-rock mess.
Typically, brown sugar comes from the store in a box or a bag. Or “sealed” in a bag inside a box. All methods are an attempt to keep that brown sugar soft. Just don’t count on it. Once opened, expect rock-hard results to follow, and sooner than you might think. A lot has to do with humidity, light and heat.
Always transfer brown sugar from its packaging to an airtight sealable container. A good choice for long-term storage is a glass canning jar used with a FoodSaver vacuum sealer and jar sealing accessory.
Even in a supposed airtight container, unless all of the air has been vacuumed out and sealed, there is enough moisture loss for brown sugar to harden. The solution is introducing moisture to the container. An easy way to do this is with a couple of marshmallows.
Marshmallows don’t change the taste of the brown sugar but rather give the molasses a way to replenish any lost moisture. This might sound silly, but it works. Just plan for the marshmallows to dry up and harden. Replace as necessary.
Place a small piece of bread in the container with the brown sugar. Like marshmallows, white bread contains a good amount of moisture. As that transfers to the molasses in the brown sugar, the bread will become hard, the brown sugar soft. Replace that piece of bread weekly, or as needed.
A slice or two of a ripe apple dropped into a container of brown sugar also will keep it soft. Again, the molasses in the sugar attracts the moisture in the apple, and that keeps everyone happy — for a while.
A piece of unglazed food-grade terra cotta makes for an ideal brown-sugar saver. Simply soak that piece of pottery in water, then drop it into the brown sugar container. Apply the lid and then walk away. Your brown sugar will be perfectly soft and fluffy the next time you reach for it.
Rather than smashing a flowerpot to come up with the terra cotta, I suggest you purchase an inexpensive terra cotta brown sugar keeper (available in a variety of sizes and shapes at Amazon) that is food-grade (safe) and just the right size.
BROWN SUGAR KEEPER
If you intend to purchase an airtight container for brown sugar, I suggest you get one that comes with the terra cotta disk. Now you have the best of both worlds: an excellent container and a terra cotta sugar keeper all in one. Give the terra cotta a good soak in water every few weeks and replace it in the container.
Having purchased a brown sugar container with the terra cotta to give it a test and honest review, I found it so ideal that it has become my permanent brown sugar storage method of choice. It works great.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
It’s so easy to make brown sugar you might consider giving up storing it at all. Just make it on demand, as needed.
Combine 1 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or mixer until thoroughly blended.
If you make more you will use immediately, store the remainder in an airtight container. You know the routine.
You can find specific resources for items mentioned at EverydayCheapskate.com/brownsugar.