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Jul 14, 2003 11:25 AM

Sugar Smell

  • b

I have off smelling sugar!?

I bought the cheapest five pound bag from my local grocer about a week or so ago (best foods brand?) and I stored the sugar in a metal container on the shelf in my kitchen. Yesterday while making coffee I noticed that my coffee had an odd flavor. I traced it back to the sugar which had a distinct farm smell - like fertilizer sprayed on corn fields.

The sugar was dry and granular (no clumps). No foreign substance was visible in the container (I poked around a bit).

Any ideas what could cause this problem? Has anyone else ever seen (smelled) this problem?



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  1. t

    My guess would be improper storage of the sugar by the store. Unfortunately, I once took a "tour" behind the scenes of a large supermarket... Storage hygiene practices left a LOT to be desired.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TrishUntrapped

      I know this is a very old post... I'm new to Chow... but... unfortunately, my guess would be: during that 'bulk storage' period, the bag or container holding the sugar was exposed to the pesticide[s] sprayed or fogged into the area to keep the food "SAFE"... ahem...

      1. re: kmengman

        THANK YOU kmengman! I was going crazy trying to figure out why my sugar, stored in a glass container, would smell like chemicals! I know that sugar cant go bad, but I also know what my nose told me. So glad we tossed it. Thank you for this!

    2. b
      babette feasts

      I'm sometimes surpised by how bad sugar can smell. Emptying a 50 lb bag into the bin, and hmm, gosh that sort of stinks. But it still tastes sweet. I've never noticed an off flavor from funky smelling sugar, but I suppose it's possible.

      For me personally, when I make my morning espresso - both at home and at work, there is tremendous variation in the flavor. Some days I make great coffee, occasinally I end up dumping it.

      Then again, some days one's palate is just 'off' and everything tastes funny.

      3 Replies
      1. re: babette feasts

        Boris: I agree with Babette, that it has no effect upon the taste or flavor. However, I learned from a very well known Chef, that for this reason all the sugar that was served in his dining rooms, including the packets, pre-packed were kept stored in Plastic Containers with with whole Vanilla Pods, as he felt this was better for pleasing customers. It actually worked quite well.

        1. re: babette feasts
          Boris Carlitov

          I agree that espresso can vary greatly from day to day but I'm convinced the source (this time at least) was the sugar.

          I've kept sugar in this container before with no problems. I've replaced the off smelling sugar with some new stuff that also doesn't have any oder problems. (I probably went overboard getting organic sugar from whole foods instead of the normal stuff)

          I'm thinking about rounding up a chemistry student to put a small sample in a spectrometer to see what it comes up with.

          the smell is still a mystery to me...


          1. re: babette feasts

            IF you have ever smelled a sugar mill in the works, you might not be surprised at how foul it can smell...