We’ve all been there.
You’re about to bake cookies, and your brown sugar is hard as a rock.
Crunchy. Stale. Fossilized.
What does one do? Can it be fixed?
First, let’s examine the inner workings of brown sugar.
Why does brown sugar harden so fast?
Brown sugar is made up of granulated sugar + molasses. Molasses adds moisture. This gives it that soft, sand-like quality. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than light brown sugar and the two can be used interchangeably. However, when exposed to air, brown sugar will eventually dry out.
Here are 3 common preventative solutions:
- Apple slices
Now, let me preface by saying that all of the above solutions work. They work really well. The idea is to place a slice of bread, apple, or a few marshmallows on top of the sugar and store in an airtight container. They add moisture back to the sugar. It will stay soft for days. Weeks even.
Hooray! Problem solved!
But wait- what if I don’t have any of those things?
Problem #1: availability.
Most of us have bread in the kitchen. Maybe apples. But marshmallows? Probably not.
So, let’s ditch the marshmallow idea and use bread instead.
Problem #2: mold.
If you add bread to sugar it will stay soft. But eventually, it will create mold. Same goes for apple slices. (I’ve heard that marshmallows are mold-resistant but that brings us back to problem #1).
You’re left with a big pile of soft brown sugar… that you can’t use.
Here’s my boring (yet effective) solution:
Just use a container.
Immediately after opening, dump your sugar into a container with a tight fitting lid. Alternatively, keep the sugar in its original packaging (either plastic or wax coated bag- no box) secure the top and then place into a container. Either one will work. Store in a cool, dry place. Never refrigerate. I use a glass one with a BPA free lid.
But what if…
It’s too late? And you have a brick of brown sugar?
I have a solution for that too.
How to soften hard brown sugar
The microwave method is my favorite. It’s the fastest.
Place your sugar into a coffee mug. Fill another mug with water. Microwave both mugs for about 10-20 seconds, increasing time as needed. The steam from the water will soften the sugar. Just like magic. But don’t over do it- you’ll have hot caramel!
*Tip: Use oven mitts when removing the mugs from the microwave. They are very hot.
If you don’t have a microwave, use a food processor. The sugar won’t be as soft but it’s still usable.
Or, ask Santa to get you one.
Try this minimalist approach on how to soften brown sugar. It works like a charm.
Have a great tip not mentioned here? Do tell!