Brown Sugar - hard as cement!!!

Every time I want to use brown sugar, I have to chisel it off of the ‘rock’ that it’s become.

So … 2 questions:

Is there any way to soften brown sugar once it gets to the cement-like state?

Is there a way to prevent it from getting that way? My mom says to put a piece of bread in with the sugar, but I would think the bread would go moldy in no time.

I use it very rarely, so what I usually end up doing is just throwing away the cement, and buying a new bag.

keep it airtightly closed between uses. to soften for use, microwave for a few seconds. unfortunately, this is only a temporary fix, so you’ll have to do it each time you need to use it.

Brown sugar has a higher moisture content than granulated sugar, and it becomes “cement” when it dries out. The bread thing actually does work; just stick it in with the sugar for a few days (i.e. not long enough to mold), and the sugar should soften up again as it absorbs moisture from the bread. Repeat as necessary. A cut piece of apple will work as well.

To prevent it from happening, try keeping your brown sugar in an airtight container. The “plastic bag in a box” packaging that brown sugar is often sold in isn’t terribly good at keeping moisture in; I usually take the plastic bag that the sugar is in and transfer it to an old coffee can. Keeps it soft for months.

Of course, I may also use it more often than you do - one of my favourite breakfasts is brown sugar on Cheerios. Yumyumyum.

Whatever you do, don’t google for “rock hard brown sugar”.


Anyway, I’ve also heard about the slice of bread. Supposedly it softens the sugar up within a day or two. The bread won’t turn moldy in that short time. I’ve also heard that an apple slice works.

Since you have a brown sugar rock to experiment with, why not try it and let us know.

I have put it in the oven, but it’s only good for immediate use. It’s even harder once it cools down. My friend keeps hers in the fridge, but I don’t know if it works too well. I also heard keeping a slice of apple in the bag helps, but that’s no bett than bread in the long term.

[nitpick] Cement is just a powder. Concrete is the rock-like substance you are comparing the brown sugar to. (Sorry…civil engineering pet peeve) [/nitpick]

So if the sugar softens up with moisture, why not just drop 1/4 cup of water into the bag the day before rather than using the evapoated moisture from a peice of food (bread/apple)?

If you want to use the brown sugar for putting on oatmeal or something, you can dissolve it in minimal water to make brown sugar syrup. (yum) However if you want to measure it for baking you are kind of out of luck.

I keep mine in an airtight jar with a bread slice (and for some reason, the bread never gets moldy no matter how long it sits in there – on occasion I’ve left the same slice in for months with no negative effects.)

For softening the sugar, you can use water: seal the lump of sugar in a plastic bag, tightly, with a teaspoonful or so of water, then wait a couple of days. Should work, assunming your brown sugar is the same stuff we have here (in Finland).

Your bread will probably never get moldy. Remember, sugar is a preservative in large quantities, just like salt. Leave the bread in.

I’ve also heard that people sometimes put a piece of apple in there.

I’ve seen “Brown Sugar Bears” sold in kitchen stores. They look like they’re made of some sort of clay. Supposedly you keep them in your brown sugar and they’ll keep it soft.

Never tried it myself but I seem to recall my stepmother uses one and it seems to work fine.

As someone posted, you can put it in the oven on Warm, but also put a sizeable amount of water next to it in a different container. I think it’s like 15 mins. Look on the box or package, it should state so.

I’ve seen those Gulo gulo. Here’s two examples. You’re right - it’s a ceramic disk that you soak in water, and it releases it slowly to keep the sugar soft.

OTOH, if it’s already that way, I don’t see anything wrong with putting the bag in a shopping bag or two and running it over with a car.

You want moisture, not water. You won’t get the moisture to distribute around rapidly enough to avoid melting some of the crystals together.
The 1/4 cup of water will melt some of the sugar into syrup, which will loose at least some of it’s moisture into the rest of the bag over time. You (depending on the relative amts of sugar vs water) end up with
a) A gross, sticky mess;
b) A even more rock-like chunk of brown sugar;
c) A glasslike brown sugar mass coated in moist sugar crystals;
d) Some close variant on these.

Or on grapefruit… even though that doesn’t sound like a good combination. (Assuming you like sugar on grapefruit in the first place…)

I’ve found that sealing it in a zip-loc bag along with a moist paper towel keeps the sugar soft for long stretches.

The slice of apple works.

Moist paper towel in a sealed container or bag… works wonders.