Does brown sugar go bad and how long does it last before going bad? Chances are that you don’t really think about how long sugar lasts. In fact, many people consider it to be a timeless addition to any pantry. It will always be there when you need it and you don’t really need to think about how long it’ll last, right? In reality, it is still important for you to have a good idea of how long the brown sugar in your pantry will last. While it might not go as rancid or bad for your health as many other foods do, there is a time when the quality of the sugar drops substantially, which can affect the quality of whatever food you are making. By making sure that the brown sugar in your pantry is still in good condition, you can rest assured knowing that whatever food you cook with it will be as delicious as ever.
How Long Does Brown Sugar Last?
Unfortunately, there really is no definite answer as to how long it takes for brown sugar to go bad. This is because brown sugar technically doesn’t go bad at all. Sure, the taste and texture of the food can change over time but the brown sugar will still be completely safe to eat. This means that if you are concerned about keeping the food in your pantry from spoiling, you won’t have to fret too much about the brown sugar.
On the other hand, if you want to make sure that everything in your pantry tastes fresh, then you should pay attention to the brown sugar. Over time, brown sugar will change. The texture will become a hard, almost completely solid lump. It will still be good to eat but it can be hard to get the exact measurement you want. In general, it will take about two years beyond the printed date on the brown sugar before this happens. You don’t have to worry too much about this, though, because you can very easily restore the brown sugar to its natural state if you do not want to replace it. Something to keep in mind is that the taste might change slightly after the two years pass. It isn’t enough to make the whole bag of sugar worthless but it is certainly something that can change the quality of a sensitive dish.
Something else to keep in mind is that brown sugar will not extend the life of any food that it is put in. Once you bake the sugar into another type of food, such as a cookie, then you shouldn’t count on the cookie lasting any longer than it otherwise would. You should go by what the ingredients of the cookie include to determine how long it will last. Only when it is on its own will brown sugar last for almost an indefinite period. It will be the last to expire, compared to other ingredients, but it still can.
How Do You Restore Brown Sugar?
Restoring brown sugar from the hardened clump that it turns into is incredibly easy. One of the reasons why brown sugar does this is because it has lost its moisture over time and the sugar grains have banded together. There are a few different ways that you can go about restoring your brown sugar lump.
If you have bread to spare, you can place a slice of fresh bread into the bag for a day or two. This can help reintroduce moisture to the brown sugar, loosening the clump and making it much easier to restore it to its typical sugary state. If you don’t want to deal with the bread, you can also put a damp paper towel in the bag of sugar. However, you will have to make sure that the damp paper towel is in plastic wrap so that the paper towel doesn’t touch the sugar directly. Finally, you can also use an organic orange peel in the sugar container. The natural oils in the peel will soften the sugar. If you don’t have an organic orange peel, you can simply wash and dry a conventional orange peel.
The orange peel method of softening sugar can work within a few hours, which can be nice if you are planning on baking a large meal at the end of the day. The bread will take about one or two days to fully soften the sugar so it should be done well in advance of a baking project. The damp paper towel will also take a few days to work so it should be done in advance as well.
If you realize that your sugar is in a hard clump and you don’t have the time (or oranges) to spare for the orange peel method, there is one last method you can try to restore the brown sugar. First, you will want to place the sugar in a bowl and put a damp paper towel over the bowl. Stick this in the microwave for about 20 seconds and the sugar should be almost completely restored. You will have to take some caution with this as if you leave it in the microwave for too long, the sugar can melt. Nobody wants this to happen.
Keeping the Brown Sugar Stored Properly
While it is pretty easy to restore brown sugar if it becomes hardened, it can be a hassle that nobody really looks forward to dealing with. Thankfully, there are also ways to extend the shelf life of brown sugar so this does not happen. Generally, you are going to want to keep it in a sealed container and make sure that it remains in an airtight container when you are not using it. Unlike most other foods in your pantry, you are actually going to want to keep brown sugar in a humid area since it hardens due to a lack of moisture. This means that it will probably be easier for you to keep the brown sugar not in the cool, dry pantry but actually away from most other foods in the kitchen. As annoying as this might be, this will make it easier on you because you won’t have to deal with the sugar clumps as much.
What to Remember
When it comes to keeping your brown sugar in the best condition possible, there really isn’t too much to think about. After all, brown sugar can last just about forever if you don’t mind having to deal with a hardened lump of sugar. For the best results in keeping your sugar from clumping, you will want to ensure that it is stored in a humid area. The area doesn’t necessarily have to be warm or cold; there just has to be a decent amount of moisture in the air to prevent the hardening of the sugar. Otherwise, you can simply keep the brown sugar in the pantry with everything else. In about two years time, you will have to deal with the sugar hardening and forming clumps that you have to break if you want your baked goods to be, well, good.
There are various ways to restore the sugar from its hardened form depending on how much time you have and what materials you have with you. If you cannot afford to wait, you can always microwave the sugar with a damp paper towel on top of the container but this carries the risk of accidentally melting the sugar. If you have a few hours to spare, an orange peel will work wonderfully. Otherwise, a slice of bread or a damp paper towel wrapped in plastic can also work to soften a sugar lump. With this in mind, you will be able to take care of your brown sugar without an issue.