If you like to bake, you've probably had to deal with rock-hard brown sugar that's been kept in the pantry for too long. I like baking as much as the next foodie, so I do it whenever I have the time. But that's just the problem: I don't have enough time. As a result, I find myself reaching for the brown sugar once every several weeks, only to discover the consistency is more like a small boulder.
What causes this problem? Brown sugar is a mixture of white sugar and molasses. And over time, the moisture from the molasses will evaporate. As a result, you get stuck with a hardened mound of brown sugar.
How can I prevent my brown sugar from hardening? There are several things you can do, but I prefer putting the brown sugar in an airtight container and storing it in the back of my refrigerator. It's quick, easy and requires little to no thinking or extra purchasing. But there are other alternatives:
- Terracotta clay discs: Costing anywhere from $5 to $10, these clay discs keep brown sugar from drying out. Just add it with the brown sugar to a resealable bag.
- Apple, bread or marshmallows: You can also add a slice of bread, slice of apple or a few marshmallows to your bag of brown sugar. The sugar will draw out the moisture from any of these ingredients and remain soft. The food doesn't get moldy or rancid; instead, they just dry up.
How can I soften brown sugar? Already dealing with a rock-hard mass and need to revive it? Place the brown sugar in a bowl and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove the towel and break up the sugar with a fork. If it's still too hard, re-cover with the towel and microwave another 30 seconds, until the sugar has softened.
Don't buy too much brown sugar: Unless you know you're going to bake several batches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, don't buy much more brown sugar than you need. This way, you won't have to worry about storage, and you'll save space in your pantry or fridge.