Extra Helpings: Brown Sugar Salvation


I’ve had some brown sugar in my pantry since Christmas. It’s solid, and hard as a rock. Should I throw it away? Does brown sugar ever go bad?

Don’t throw away the brown sugar before trying this: If you need to use the brown sugar immediately, take it out of the package and place it on a baking tray in a 250°F oven for five minutes. When it is soft, carefully measure out the amount you need. Do this quickly because the sugar will harden when it cools. (And remember: Oven-heated sugar gets very, very hot, so be careful.)

If you have a little more time, put the brown sugar rock in a re-sealable plastic bag along with a slice of apple or a damp (not soaking wet!) paper towel, then seal it up and let it sit for a few days. When you remove the apple or paper towel, you’ll find it is soft again. If not… try the oven method. If THAT doesn’t work… it may be beyond Mama’s help.

Brown sugar doesn’t go bad if it is stored properly. But, exposure to the air will harden brown sugar, so always keep it in cool, dark area in an airtight container or bag. Don’t store it in the refrigerator, but you can freeze it. When you are ready to use it, thaw it for a few hours and stir it to break up any ice crystals.

And since Mama has to always give you MORE information than you ever asked for, here are few other things that you should know about brown sugar:

• Brown Sugar is granulated sugar combined with molasses. It’s the molasses that gives brown sugar a somewhat acidic taste.

• You can use dark brown sugar and light brown sugar interchangeably in recipes. But think about what you are making: for recipes calling for a darker color and a molasses taste, like gingerbread, use dark brown sugar; for nutty, caramel flavor, like pecan pie, use light brown sugar.

• When measuring, always pack brown sugar firmly into the cup or spoon.

• Want moister baked goods? Use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, or use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. Make sure you firmly pack the brown sugar when you measure.



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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com