How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar: A Head-to-Head Test

How to Soften Hard Brown Sugar: A Head-to-Head Test

Dream Cheeky will help you know How To Fix Hardened Brown Sugar 2022: Must Read

Video How To Fix Hardened Brown Sugar

It’s happened to all of us (unless you are the kind of person who diligently decants your baking supplies into airtight containers, in which case we have very little in common): We’ve reached into the pantry for cookie ingredients only to discover that our brown sugar is no longer scoopable and siftable, but rather depressingly rock solid. Half-heartedly scratching at the outer edges of the mass only shaves off a few grains at a time, so we’re forced to face the music: for cookie o’clock to proceed as scheduled, we have to buy another bag.

Brown sugar dries out when exposed to air for too long, losing all of the moisture that its molasses content provides and transforming from wet sand to a sweet, unusable brick. The phenomenon is so ubiquitous—the result of plastic bags that aren’t fully sealed and cardboard boxes left cracked open at the corners—that googling “how to soften hard brown sugar” yields pages of results. But from the numerous tips and techniques presented, it’s tough to pick a way to proceed; confusing instructions and long estimated times (I have to wait three days for cookies?!) have led me to throw away more than a few dumb heavy blocks of sugar.

To put the “how to soften hard brown sugar” issue to rest and curb my sugar waste, I tried five of the most commonly recommended methods, using easy to find tools and common kitchen ingredients. One technique clearly came out on top, and armed with this information (plus a small terracotta round, spoiler alert!), I’m never going to have to postpone cookie-making again.

What you’ll need

Three of the most commonly suggested methods to revitalize rock-hard brown sugar rely on an airtight container, so you’ll need one in order to bring the ingredient back to life. Why weren’t we storing our brown sugar in an airtight container this whole time, which would have saved us from ever getting into this dilemma in the first place? Listen, I don’t know, sometimes life gets in the way. We’re not dwelling on the past. Instead, we’re looking forward: at a large resealable bag or tightly-lidded food storage container that will help us bring our dried out sweetener back to life. At Epi, we love a Stasher bag (the 52-ounce version that sits up on its own is a good long-term sugar storage solution) and the Snapware boxes, which won the glass category in our container product review.

The two other techniques don’t require a container, but do depend on an appliance. Keep in mind, though: while the microwave and oven methods are often written about as the speediest ways to rectify a hard sugar situation, they are much more hands-on than the alternatives—and too much heat can reduce your ingredient to glop. Before you embark on your journey, consider how much helicopter parenting you want to be doing while bringing your sugar rock child back to life, and what kind of machinery you’re working with in your kitchen.

The apple method

What it is: Adding a few apple slices to a container of hardened brown sugar adds moisture to the environment, reviving the sugar. The more cut surface area in the bag, the more moisture it imparts, so you’ll need more pieces for a lot of sugar and just one or two for a cup. To eight ounces of solid brown sugar, I added ¼ apple, cut into three slices.

How it worked: I saw results in my apple bag after just two hours; because I added a few slices, which could be dispersed on all sides of the hardened sugar, the sugar softened evenly. The moisture from the apples also managed to seep deeper into larger chunks of sugar than other methods, breaking them down all the way through in less time. The apples did get brown, mushy, and coated in sugar in time, which made me eager to fish them out of the bag. I’d read that brown sugar treated this way takes on a subtle apple flavor and found that to be true, so I was hesitant to combine this apple-y sugar with the rest of my brown sugar once soft again.