Does It Go Bad?

Information about storage and shelf life of various products

Does Brown Sugar Go Bad?

So the question you ask yourself is: “does brown sugar go bad?”. If you’ve stored brown sugar for a longer period of time (like a couple of years), and you’re not sure if you can still use it, you should know that in most cases there are no reasons you couldn’t. In fact, when sugar is stored properly, it will last for years. The only not so great thing that’s likely to happen is that the sugar will become hard. Good news is you can soften it, and I will provide you with a couple of ways to do it later in the article.

How to store brown sugar

Brown sugar should be stored similarly to white sugar. That means it should be kept in a dry, cool place, like in a cupboard in the pantry. Make sure it stays away from any sources of heat (ovens, heaters, etc.). Keeping it in a dry place is especially important, as sugar absorbs water from its environment. That’s why it hardens.

As long as the package is unopened, you can store brown sugar in its original packaging. Once you’ve opened it, you need to make sure the sugar is tightly sealed. You can achieve that by using airtight containers or by simply covering the package with a plastic bag. Just make sure it’s sealed well when stored.

Brown sugar
(credit:quinn.anya)

How to soften hard brown sugar

Sometimes, if some moisture gets its way near the sugar, sugar absorbs it and hardens. Don’t consider it spoiled when it’s hard, because it’s not! It’s just a little more difficult to use it when it’s hard, but you can fix this. There are a couple of ways:

  • if you don’t need it right away, put an apple wedge into the sugar bag/container, seal it and keep it that way for a couple of hours
  • microwave it for a minute or two (choose low or medium setting)
  • break it with a fork
  • put it into a bag and pound against a wall or counter
  • use an electric mixer

Shelf life of brown sugar

Basically, you can keep brown sugar as long as you want, provided you store it well. If you will keep it safe from water and any bugs that might want to get to it, you can keep it for years. As with any other product, it’s recommended to use brown sugar within a couple of years, but if you’ll make sure it’s stored properly, it will last long years.

How to tell if brown sugar is bad

I you haven’t kept brown sugar tightly sealed, some small insects (bugs) might have gotten into the package and die there. If you can find any dead or alive small bugs in your brown sugar, toss it away. If you’ve stored it in a way I’ve described above, it will be fine. It can become hard, but you already know how to deal with that.
Summary
As you already know, if stored well, sugar will be fine for a really long period of time. Storing it properly isn’t that difficult either – just make sure it stays in a dry environment, away from any sources of heat and closed tightly, so any bugs won’t be able to find a way to get into the package.

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