Kitchen tip that works: soften brick-like brown sugar

What’s that? You live in a tidy home where everything is nicely stored in airtight containers and your brown sugar never, ever turns into a hard lump at which you must chip away with a knife? And then? While you’re doing that? Your hand slips and you wind up putting a giant dent in your counter top and stabbing your left arm with the knife? And you curse like a sailor and then growl like a bear while your children shake their heads at you, and click tsk tsk with their tongues?

Um, yeah. That doesn’t happen to me either.

Bah, who are we kidding? Most of us have opened the brown sugar container mid-recipe to find that the sugar has turned to stone. That’s because brown sugar contains molasses. Over time, the moisture in the molasses evaporates, leaving you with a brick that you want to hurl at someone’s head.

But no longer! You don’t need to throw it at someone, and you don’t need to throw it away! You simply need a tiny slice of apple. No joke: just place an apple slice (any size) in the bag and seal it back up again. I swear: your brown sugar will return to a moist, pleasant  state within about a day. It works! I know, because I tried it.

A short time ago, this bag of brown sugar was a brick. A brick, I tell you! Capable of paving the driveway! One sliver of apple and a couple of days later, it is soft and crumbly and delightful. The only evidence of my tampering is a small white spot where the apple lay. The apple slice itself looked brown and withered, like a tired soul that has done its duty with honor.

See that tiny white spot? That's where the apple slice did its noble work.

I am told — though I have not tried these alternatives — that you can also restore brown sugar with a slice of bread, an orange peel, or a piece of terra cotta pottery that has been soaked in water for at least 15 minutes. Want to prevent hardening in the first place? Just place any of these items in the bag when the sugar’s still fresh. (Or, you know, you can actually seal the container so it’s airtight. But of course we all know how well that’s worked in the past).

Can you see how soft this sugar has become? Rock on!

There are cookies to be made, oatmeal to be served! We need our brown sugar soft, yo! Hooray for kitchen wisdom and the inner calm that comes with soft, moist sugar!

About these ads

15 Responses to “Kitchen tip that works: soften brick-like brown sugar”

  1. 1 Cindy January 6, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Thanks so much for that tip! I’ll definitly try that. Thanks also for your beautiful writing. It’s real, and nowadays, that’s something that’s very rare. Happy New Year and soft brown sugar for all!

  2. 2 Lisa January 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve heard that tip, but here’s one for preventing the hardening too and the brown sugar is always ready to use: keep the bag inside a ziplock freezer bag in the freezer. Take it out when you need it and after 5 minutes it’s softened enough to scoop out the amount you need. Then put the rest back in the freezer. I have done this for years and it works great!

  3. 3 Sarah @ Mum In Bloom January 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I love reading tips but more than that I LOVE LAUGHING OUT LOUD! Thanks for making me do that yet, once again :)

  4. 4 Greg January 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    A professional bakers tip is to use recipes that scale ingredients by weight rather than volume (lbs/ounces/grams versus Tablespoons and cups). You can weigh chunky sugar, as well as the other ingredients, without having to worry about filling the measuring cups properly, and let your mixer break up the lumps. It also gives a much more accurate rendering of the recipe.

    That said, I prefer soft brown sugar and want to string-up my colleagues who do not re-seal the 50 lb brown sugar bag after use. The chunks are much bigger in 50 lb sack. Oy.

  5. 5 Jonquil January 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Some time ago when I discovered that our brown sugar had achieved construction material hardness, I experimented with putting half a piece of bread in the bag. I was stunned to come back 24 hours later and discover soft, moist, scoop-able sugar! Who knew? Those ‘old wives tales’ actually have truth in them! You go, old wives!

  6. 6 Vikki January 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Pssst…let me tell you a little secret…brown sugar can get hard even IN an airtight container. I’m not admitting that my brown sugar is in an airtight container, mind you. I heard this from a “friend”.

  7. 7 annita January 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Josh Ritter! thanks :-) I dig. Didn’t really know about him. But we’re playing it now and my kids are dancing (1.6 yrs, 3 yrs and 4.5 yrs). Can’t really do that with Tom Waits.
    FYI Bread works for me, though sounds like slice of apple might work a little better… but bread looks a little less “like a tired soul that has done its duty with honor”.

    Really enjoying your blog for a couple of months now.

  8. 8 Greg January 19, 2010 at 1:19 am

    UPDATE: Of course my lovely colleagues left the 50 sack of brown sugar open AGAIN last week and I found a 40 lb brick in the sugar bin the next morning at 5 am. Not happy.

    However, working in a bakery, I remembered this post and tossed in an entire loaf of day-old sourdough after chipping off a couple of pounds. And I’ll be damned! It softened the entire 40 lbs in a day.

    You win the Teaching the Old Chef New Tricks Award.

  9. 9 jenniwd January 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Or if in a hurry use microwave: either place sugar in microwave next to small bowl of water and zap for a minute or so, OR place sugar and something damp inside sealed plastic and zap for only 20 seconds. Don’t overdo: you don’t want to melt sugar..

  10. 10 deb January 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    the apple definitely works well in softening up brown sugar bricks!

  11. 11 Linda January 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Just found that you are back on the web and have enjoyed catching up. Your writing makes me laugh, makes sit up straight in total admiration. I’ll be at the first book signing!

  12. 12 Christine January 29, 2010 at 1:21 am

    That’s brilliant! Thank you. I actually have a bag of rock hard brown sugar in the pantry right now.

  13. 13 Peter Jonas March 1, 2010 at 6:53 am

    jeez. I badly need Kitchen tips right now because these past few days i have been having dry mouth over luscious food! thanks to this site.

  14. 14 Amy March 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    A slice of bread works well, too, but it takes overnight.

  15. 15 brick cleaner June 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Brilliant stuff. I like the design of your website template, can you tell me where you got if from please?

Comments are currently closed.


Crazy Hip Blog Mamas Web Ring

Join :: List :: Random


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers

%d bloggers like this: