Quick tip:The two-step process to keep brown sugar from hardening

Brown sugar cookies

No matter how long you’ve been cooking, it seems that brown sugar remains one of the kitchen’s most aggravating ingredients. Poorly packaged – in a box that never seals tightly – it hardens and clumps easily. The key is to never let it dry out – a condition that requires two steps.

The first step is to immediately transfer the brown sugar to a tight, moisture-proof container. And the second step is to add something to that container that will contribute moisture. Here are some suggestions that seem to work for people:

  • Serious Eats recommends adding a marshmallow to the container.
  • Add a terra cotta sugar bear, especially made for the purpose. Pre-soak and put it in the container with the sugar. (We’ve had one for 20 years and it’s still going strong).
  • Slice of bread (though be careful not to allow it to get moldy).
  • Sliced apples
  • Don’t add anything, but keep the container in the freezer.

And if it gets hard, don’t panic. Just put a moist paper towel on top and microwave it for about 30 seconds. Then break it up.

Of course, you can always use up the brown sugar before it gets soft  – maybe in these highly rated Brown Sugar Cookies from Joy the Baker.

Photo courtesy of Joy the Baker

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  • Christine  on  September 17, 2013

    I've found that the terra cotta sugar bear not only prevents this problem, but also remedies it after the fact. I unpacked after my move to find rock-solid brown sugar in one of my canisters, but the bear did the trick! I thought it was so silly when I received it — as an avid baker I couldn't imagine having brown sugar long enough for this to be an issue — but it really is handy!

  • Jane  on  September 18, 2013

    Another way to reconstitute rock hard brown sugar is to put the block in a bowl, then cover it with a damp tea-towel. Leave it for a while, breaking it up every so often.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  September 19, 2013

    I find the marshmallow link goes to food52, not serious eats.

    We always use a sliver of apple, but I like the bear approach. Might have to order some.

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