Brown sugar is an ally to the baker but a great annoyance when it has hardened. What's the best way to soften brown sugar? Why does it get hard in the first place? What are the ideal storage conditions for this baking staple?
Learn the answers to all these questions and more with Fine Dining Lovers' definitive guide to brown sugar.
What is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar acquires its maroon color and sweetness from the addition of molasses, which contributes the moisture that helps keep brown sugar nice and soft. It is sold in 'light' and 'dark' varieties.
Why Does Brown Sugar Harden?
When exposed to air the moisture in brown sugar will evaporate, leaving behind a giant rock that is quite difficult to separate.
How To Store Brown Sugar
Ideally, you want to store brown sugar in one of two ways: inside a resealable plastic storage bag or an air-tight container. Both methods trap in the moisture so the brown sugar will remain soft.
How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to soften brown sugar. Some methods employ the use of apples, bread, and even marshmallows. Let's explore the best ways to keep brown sugar soft:
Terra Cotta Containers
An air-tight terra cotta container is an excellent way to prevent brown sugar from hardening. These containers are made for this specific purpose. You can find them here.
Storing the sugar with a slice of bread is an old-school method of keeping brown sugar soft. This method works surprisingly well and the sugar prevents the bread from spoiling.
Placing slices of apples inside the container of brown sugar will keep it soft. The sugar won't harden thanks to the moisture from the apples.
Some people swear that brown sugar will stay soft if stored with a few marshmallows. It's worth a try!
How To Soften Brown Sugar
Even with the best intentions, sometimes brown sugar will still harden. Never fear! Here is the easiest trick for getting brown sugar to soften quickly.
The quickest way to soften brown sugar is to microwave it covered with a damp paper towel, as illustrated in this nifty video from The Kitchn.