How to Soften Brown Sugar

We've all been there: brown sugar turned to brick. But don’t fret, you can’t unboil an egg but you can re-soften brown sugar. Here are our sugar-saving tips.

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Photo by: Quanthem

Quanthem

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Nothing will spoil your cookie-making plans quicker than gathering up your ingredients only to discover that the brown sugar at the back of your cupboard is rock-hard. We tackled this problem in our test kitchen and discovered that stale brown sugar can be salvaged and softened. You can also keep a brand-new bag as soft as wet sand, indefinitely.

To start, why did my brown sugar dry out?

The brown in brown sugar is molasses, and it’s not a fan of air. When exposed to the elements of your kitchen, the molasses will evaporate, turning your brown sugar from damp sand to a brick.

Plan-ahead by keeping brown sugar soft.

You can prevent petrified brown sugar by storing it an air tight container (squeeze every last bit of air out). For extra insurance add a slice of bread in the bottom of the container. It will add just enough moisture to keep the molasses happy. And don't worry, the bread won’t mold.

But, my brown sugar is already rock-hard!

All is not lost! Depending on how much time you have, hard brown sugar can be softened.

If you have 2 to 3 days: Transfer your brown sugar into an airtight container and try resuscitating it with something that can add moisture, like a slice of bread (we know this one works!) or a couple of damp tea bags. We also tried other recommended fixes like marshmallows — which had not effect — and apple slices, which turned slimy.

If you only have 2 to 3 minutes: Often we are caught off guard by rock-hard brown sugar, so advanced planning isn’t an option. For the quickest results, place a lump of hardened sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a moist paper towel. Zap the sugar in the microwave, on high in 20-second increments, breaking up any large clumps with a fork as you go. Be careful not to let the sugar start to melt or it will harden into a caramelized mess when it cools. 

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