Brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses. When you buy brown sugar, it is soft and fluffy. If stored too long or not stored properly, it turns into a rock-hard, solid brick. (Not a good thing!) There are a few things you can do to keep it from drying out.
At kitchen shops (or even some grocery stores,) they sell the terracotta clay disks shown above for about $3 each. Their sole purpose is to keep brown sugar from drying out. If you don’t want to buy a terra cotta disk, you can put a slice of bread or a slice of an apple or even a damp paper towel in with the brown sugar to keep it soft. (What is quite amazing is that neither the apple nor the bread gets moldy or rancid. They dry up and become inedible, but they do keep the brown sugar soft.)
Brown sugar always comes in a plastic bag. You can add the disk (or bread or apple) to the bag and re-seal it tight. But I find brown sugar keeps better in an air-tight container rather than in the original bag.
If you have purchased a terra cotta disk, you need to soak it in water for about 15 minutes before adding it to the brown sugar.
Then dry the disk off.
Put the brown sugar in an air-tight container and add the disk to the container.
When I added the disk to the container, my brown sugar was pretty hard. After about 8 hours the disk had softened the brown sugar completely.
If,when you want to use your brown sugar,you discover that you have not stored it properly and it is rock hard, there is still a solution! You can zap it for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave to soften it. Do it in 30-second increments and keep checking it. You don’t want it to melt! You can also heat it in a 250-degree oven for a few minutes, until it is soft. One word of caution; use that sugar immediately! Once it has been softened this way, it won’t stay soft for very long.
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