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Tips to loosen up brown sugar?

StephP Jul 7, 2007 01:38 PM

The brown sugar's solid as a rock. Is there any way to salvage it without using a hammer?

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  1. m
    marlie202 RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 01:42 PM

    place the sugar in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to flatten and loosen up the sugar. Good luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: marlie202
      rilkeanheart RE: marlie202 Feb 22, 2008 10:37 AM

      A slice of bread. Close the container. The next morning, it's perfect.

      1. re: rilkeanheart
        YasKhan RE: rilkeanheart Nov 29, 2009 06:53 AM

        This works like a charm. I tried it and was amazed with the results. Thanks.

    2. f
      fudisgud RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 01:44 PM

      you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds with either a piece of apple of slice of bread. this has worked for me before

      3 Replies
      1. re: fudisgud
        ElsieDee RE: fudisgud Jul 7, 2007 02:53 PM

        I've not tried the microwave trick, thanks for the idea :)

        I usually put the hardened block of brown sugar into a zippered plastic bag and add a slice or two of apple, seal, and let sit for 24-or-so-hours.

        In the future, buy one of those brown sugar bears: http://www.sugarbearsinc.com/ - they're marvelous. (Er, you don't necessarily have to buy from the above company, they're just what came-up first on a search - provided as an example of what I mean, not shilling for the company.)

        1. re: ElsieDee
          Val RE: ElsieDee Jul 7, 2007 04:07 PM

          I've also heard of the microwave solution...I am originally from New Jersey and used to store my brown sugar with *a smallish slice of bread* to keep it moist. Have been in SW Florida for almost 20 years and keeping it moist is NOT a problem any longer, even with a/c. Does anyone else use the bread trick to keep it moist?

          1. re: Val
            LindaWhit RE: Val Jul 7, 2007 07:26 PM

            I usually zip it up in a ziplock bag, and then put the bag in a Click-Clack storage container. But if I forget to do that, it's a half a bread slice, and it's back to soft within 24-48 hours.

      2. n
        nyfoodjoe RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 03:18 PM

        just nuke it for 30-45 seconds

        2 Replies
        1. re: nyfoodjoe
          ElsieDee RE: nyfoodjoe Jul 7, 2007 03:36 PM

          Do you nuke it in its original bag?

          1. re: ElsieDee
            THenderson RE: ElsieDee Jul 10, 2007 02:44 PM

            yep...i do. same bag...30 sec's or so...maybe a few more depending on your mic. Works everytime for me.

        2. firecooked RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 04:09 PM

          I keep my brown sugar in rubbermaid container (I have a square one the whole bag fits it), and everytime I use it add a drop or two of water before sealing up and putting away so it never gets hard. This will also soften hardened sugar, just takes a little time.

          1. w
            wombat RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 06:49 PM

            Here's a way to prevent this problem: I never buy brown sugar. I always have white sugar and molasses, so when I need brown sugar, I mix a little molasses into the required amount of white sugar. Or, putting both separately into the recipe works in a lot of situations - you don't need to premix it if you are, say, creaming butter and sugar, but if you are cutting the butter in it's better to mix it first. Anyway, this way I have one less container to squeeze into my pantry and most important, I think it tastes a lot better than the kind you buy.

            13 Replies
            1. re: wombat
              wayne keyser RE: wombat Jul 7, 2007 07:41 PM

              Wombat, you took the words right outa my mouth!

              1. re: wombat
                Phood RE: wombat Jul 7, 2007 10:15 PM

                If I understand correctly, by law or custom molasses is extracted from the sugar to a refined state, then added back to the sugar for turbinado or brown sugar.
                Regardless, what is the ratio of sugar to molasses for light or dark brown sugar?

                1. re: Phood
                  wombat RE: Phood Jul 8, 2007 04:58 AM

                  I remember reading somewhere a million years ago that they don't really make it that way any more. They add, carmelized sugar, or something like that, instead? Whatever it is, it's a different flavor.

                  As for the ratio, I do it by color, but to start, it's a lot less than you might think, so be careful.

                  1. re: wombat
                    maria lorraine RE: wombat Jul 9, 2007 11:14 PM

                    Checking my research sources, that is exactly how brown sugar is made: the sugar is refined to white, then molasses is added back in.

                    Sure would like to know wombat how much you add -- I know you probably just eyeball it. Would you say it's about a teaspoon per cup of white sugar? It's a good idea and I bet the flavor *is* much better.

                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      wombat RE: maria lorraine Jul 10, 2007 10:49 AM

                      I do just eyeball it, but a teaspoon might be about right to make light brown.

                      1. re: maria lorraine
                        soupkitten RE: maria lorraine Jul 10, 2007 11:09 AM

                        you could just buy real brown cane sugar, instead of white sugar with added molasses for fake brown sugar. then you'd avoid that "iron-y" molasses taste, and the clumping, and the not melting properly, and the foaming problem-- not desirable in some baked goods or sauces. it's not expensive, & is available in the regular grocery store. . .

                        1. re: soupkitten
                          maria lorraine RE: soupkitten Jul 10, 2007 02:40 PM

                          Soupkitten, I have never seen this. Is there a brand you can recommend? Do I need to go to a health foods store to find it? Thanks.

                          1. re: maria lorraine
                            soupkitten RE: maria lorraine Jul 10, 2007 03:13 PM

                            there are some nice brown sugars in health food type stores, but c & h is nationally distributed, cheap and in regular groceries i believe-- here is a link


                            1. re: soupkitten
                              maria lorraine RE: soupkitten Jul 11, 2007 03:53 PM

                              Thank you, soupkitten.

                              Just spoke with the folks at C&H. Their brown sugar leaves the molasses intact. Beet sugar is usually refined to white, then molasses is sprayed over it to make it brown.

                              Just remember that beet sugar reacts far differently than cane sugar in recipes. Beet sugar likes to burn when you caramelize it, and will turn icing into an ugly crystallized mess.

                              Still like wombat's idea the best though.

                              1. re: maria lorraine
                                soupkitten RE: maria lorraine Jul 11, 2007 04:32 PM

                                went back and actually read the site-- agree it is vague-- "traditional method of crystallization"-- so do they add molasses or just leave it in?

                                i do like some of the lesser processed brown cane sugars i can get in bulk from the food co-op-y places, but i've used c&h a lot too, so i'll wait in anticipation of them writing you back, please let me know!

                                1. re: soupkitten
                                  maria lorraine RE: soupkitten Jul 11, 2007 04:35 PM

                                  Revised my post, kitten, to reflect updated info from C&H.

                      2. re: wombat
                        maria lorraine RE: wombat Jul 11, 2007 04:37 PM

                        Well, Phood and Wombat, you're both right. See above. Brown beet sugar gets its color from sprayed molasses. Cane sugar usually leaves the molasses intact. By the way, the two sugars cannot be used interchangedly.

                      3. re: Phood
                        thew RE: Phood Nov 29, 2009 07:46 AM

                        actually no. turbinado is supposed to be sugar that not all the molasses has been extracted from, while in brown sugar it has been fully extracted and replaced.

                        (how's that for torturing a sentence to the point of breaking?)

                    2. o
                      onebite RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 07:16 PM

                      I did this research a while ago for a huge container of dried brown sugar at work that was seriously annoying me. Put a slice or two of white bread wrapped loosely in paper towel (so as not to get bread crumbs in the sugar). The sugar absorbs the moisture from the bread, which in its turn becomes hard as a rock. Works like a charm.

                      1. riceflour RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 07:19 PM

                        I agree with the microwave trick for instant gratification. To prevent the whole mess, I keep my brown sugar in a ziptop bag that I put inside a Tupperware that I keep in my freezer. I use this same method with turbinado sugar, too, though I don't know if that makes any difference.

                        1. belgand RE: StephP Jul 7, 2007 10:03 PM

                          As others have suggested the simple solution is to put a slice of bread in there. I usually keep a slice of bread in with my brown sugar if I buy a brand that doesn't already come in a ziplock bag. This is also very effective with cookies or anything else that has a tendency to dry out.

                          1. othervoice RE: StephP Jul 8, 2007 09:33 AM

                            Guess my mother wasn't crazy after all. She always put a piece of bread in there. I've been doing it also and it works!!

                            1. k
                              ktcolt RE: StephP Jul 8, 2007 09:47 AM

                              I just had this exact same problem yesterday while making chocolate chip cookies. Place the plastic bag of brown sugar (seal it) in the microwave and heat it in 30 second increments...it will begin to soften...but make sure to do it in 30 second increments to make sure the sugar doesnt heat up and get burning hot. It took me 3x30sec times to do it and worked like a charm!

                              1. k
                                ktcolt RE: StephP Jul 8, 2007 09:48 AM

                                Besides...there are instructions for this dilemma on the back of the bag...assuming you are using a name brand. It is in the wee small print on the back at the bottom under the recipes.

                                1. m
                                  morebubbles RE: StephP Jul 9, 2007 08:41 AM

                                  Place 1/4 of an apple into the bag or container, cover and the next day it'll be fine.

                                  1. p
                                    pgokey RE: StephP Jul 10, 2007 03:50 PM

                                    You might want to buy a brown sugar bear. They're great. I paid a couple of bucks for one at my local cooking store (Kitchen Window in Minneapolis), but you can get them on the web:


                                    It's simply a piece of terra cotta that you soak in warm water for about a half an hour. I store my brown sugar in an air-tight container, and place the freshly soaked bear in the container, and it prevents the sugar from drying out and clumping. You can also use the bear for loosening already-dried brown sugar by doing the same process - adding a bear you've soaked (and patted dry) into the container (or a sealed plastic bag) overnight, and it's fine.

                                    If you do a lot of cooking with brown sugar, or if it's something you always keep on hand, I really recommend getting one, and an air-tight jar (you can buy the jars that seal properly at places like Target or Wal-Mart). The sugar keeps much better, and you never run into this problem.

                                    NOTE: I don't work for the company that makes these! I'm only suggesting how I remedy the problem that was posed on this thread.

                                    1. l
                                      liloleladi RE: StephP Feb 22, 2008 08:33 AM

                                      I read these comments, but didn't have 24 hours... LOL. I put some very hard brown sugar on a microwavable dish and a small dish of water for 1 minute. Checked and it was getting quite soft again. Put it in for another minute and immediate success. Just as good as when first opened. Thanks everyone who discussed this topic.

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