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How to Store Brown Sugar

posted in Pantry by Kathy Maister

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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Myrtha said:

I subscribed to for the easy to follow video recipes but at the rate I am getting these kitchen tips emails, like today’s How to Store Brown Sugar, I am going to know more than my mother soon! To think I put up with hard-rock brown sugar all these years, not realizing I can simply toss an apple into it, or microwave it. (I don’t think even my mother knows that.)

Thanks Kathy, I never thought of myself as a cook, but I’m learning so much from your website, I’m starting to think my aversion (and fear) of the kitchen was more from lack of knowledge than anything.

will said:

You know,

for a second there, when I saw the photo for the post, the small image at the bottom, I was sure that I saw a bowl heaped with chocolate ice-cream.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Myrtha! BTW if anyone is into spending time in the great outdoors, do go and check out Myrtha’s site. It’s terrific!

Will, you always make me laugh! I just love your comments!

will said:

Wow, now, I actually read the post, and that’s a surprsingly good idea.

Both the bread and the apple are somehow messy. I’ve never really used either and have just resigned myself to having hard brown sugar as it ages.

I think this is the tip I’ve been looking for

thanks !

Mike said:

Thanks I had my brown sugar dry up on me the last time. I had a hunch it would happen again. This is great :)

KS said:

great article. I went to make myself some oatmeal this morning and decided on brown sugar and it was rock hard. this disk seems to be the way to go, i cant imagine leaving food with the sugar in an airtight container.


june said:

i store brown sugar in the plastic wrapping in the freezer. when i need some, i take it out and within a few minutes, it softens. i take what i need and refreeze. it works for me.

startcooking said:

That’s a new one on me! I’ve never heard of storing brown sugar in the freezer. I’ll have to give it a try.

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