You’re all set to bake a batch of your favorite cookies, only to discover that your brown sugar is hard as a rock. Don’t fret. There are simple solutions to this age-old dilemma. Learn how to soften brown sugar and save your baking and your wallet with these helpful tips and tricks even when it’s rock solid.
What is brown sugar?
Brown sugar used to be an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content and had a natural moisture content. Now most brown sugar simply has molasses added to refined white sugar.
The amount of molasses added determines the color and flavor of the brown sugar. Light brown sugar has a higher proportion of white sugar and a milder flavor, while dark brown sugar has a higher proportion of molasses and a stronger flavor.
Why do you need to use brown sugar?
Since brown sugar contains molasses, it has a richer, more complex flavor than white sugar. Additionally, it gives baked goods a darker color.
It is also more moist than white sugar from the added molasses. The moisture in brown sugar helps keep baked goods moist and chewy, like in these Chewy Lemon Cookies.
Can you substitute white sugar for brown sugar?
While it is possible to substitute white sugar for brown sugar in some recipes, the results may not be as desired.
Brown sugar has a higher moisture content than white sugar, which can affect the texture of baked goods. Brown sugar also has a richer, more complex flavor than white sugar, which can alter the taste of the final product.
In general, it is best to follow the recipe as written. If you need to substitute white sugar, you may need to adjust the other ingredients in the recipe. For example, you may need to add more liquid or fat to compensate for the lack of moisture in white sugar.
Why does brown sugar get hard?
This is a common problem, and there are simple methods to keep the quality of brown sugar usable.
- That added moisture in brown sugar can easily evaporate over time, and that’s what causes it to get hard.
- Over time, as brown sugar gets exposed to air, it will harden, especially when the air in your home is dry.
- Brown sugar can also become hard if it is exposed to heat. This is because the heat causes the moisture in the sugar to evaporate.
- Brown sugar will naturally become harder over time as the molasses in the sugar starts to crystallize.
How do you keep brown sugar from hardening?
Here are simple ways to keep brown sugar from becoming clumpy brown sugar or even a rock-hard lump.
If you want to keep your brown sugar soft, storing it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place is important. Ideally, you should purchase only the amount you plan to use within the next few months; otherwise, you may end up with a brick of brown sugar.
What is the best way to soften hard brown sugar?
The easiest way to soften a hard chunk of brown sugar is to place it in a bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave the sugar for 20-second intervals until it softens.
This method is the quickest way to soften your brown sugar. Make sure to stir the brown sugar and microwave it for an additional 15 to 20 seconds, if necessary.
Be careful not to overcook the brown sugar, as it will become hard again.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the hardened sugar in an oven-safe bowl or on a baking sheet. Bake the sugar for five to 10 minutes, checking at five minutes, and every couple minutes after that to see if the brown sugar is soft.
Again, be sure that you remove the brown sugar as soon as it feels soft. If you keep it in the oven too long, it will harden quickly as it cools.
“My grandmother taught me this, and it works like a charm. Simply put a slice of bread in your brown sugar container overnight. The next morning the brown sugar is soft, and the bread is hard as a rock.”
— Sarita Harbour, An Off Grid Life
Add apple slices to the container holding the sugar; try to place them with the peel against the brown sugar, as the sugar will melt and stick to the apple flesh.
Seal your container with as little air as possible, and let it sit for 24 hours.
These two methods work because the moisture from the bread or apple will help to soften the brown sugar. Remove the apple or bread after 24 hours, and keep the brown sugar in a zip-top bag or an air-tight container afterward. If it is still hard, you can repeat it with a new slice of apple or bread.
Terra Cotta Method
You can easily find a terra cotta disk, but any food-safe and clean terra cotta works. Place a piece of terra cotta in a container with the brown sugar.
Like with the bread or apple, seal the container and let it sit for 24 hours. The terra cotta will absorb moisture from the air and help to soften the brown sugar.
Many people place a terra cotta bear inside their sealed container of brown sugar as soon as they open a new bag. This helps slow the hardening process so your brown sugar stays soft for longer.
What if these tips to soften brown sugar don’t work?
If your brown sugar is still hard after using one of the above methods, add a few drops of water or honey to the sugar, then stir it until it is soft. You can also use a food processor or blender to break up the hard sugar.
Softening brown sugar is an easy process that can be done quickly and efficiently. Whether using a microwave, oven or the bread method, the result will be soft and ready to use in any recipe. It is important to store brown sugar properly to prevent it from hardening over time. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your brown sugar stays soft and ready for use whenever you need it.
So next time you come across some hardened brown sugar in your pantry, don't throw it away - follow one of these methods and bring it back to life!
More food how to's
- Butter is like brown sugar; for most baking recipes, it must be soft. Learn the easy way to soften butter; there are several methods that work like a charm. Next, learn how to cream butter for the best cakes and cookies.
- Make a brown sugar syrup, it makes a delicious sweetener for all kinds of food and drinks.
- Learn about freezing vegetables and how to store fresh strawberries.
- If you use lemons a lot, find out how much juice is in a lemon to get the correct measurement.
Made with brown sugar
Michelle Price is a food and travel writer at Honest and Truly who almost has an empty nest. She loves to provide both the inspiration and the confidence you need to help you get into the kitchen and on the road to enjoy new flavors and experiences.
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.