Bought a pack of brown sugar for that one recipe, then completely forgot to use it again?
We’re all guilty of that.
But don’t worry, because the good news is that brown sugar basically stays good forever.
Yep, spoiler: provided your brown sugar hasn’t come into contact with excess moisture, bacteria, or insects, you should be fine to use it.
How To Tell If Your Brown Sugar Has Gone Bad
Unless something suspect has gotten into your packet of brown sugar, it’s really unlikely it’s gone bad. Look for insects, eggs, or mold.
If your brown sugar has none of the above, you’re good to go, even if it’s hardened. That just happens as moisture leaves your brown sugar over time, and we’ll show you a method to re-soften your brown sugar.
How To Store Your Brown Sugar
The best place to store your brown sugar is a cool, dry, dark place, like a cupboard or pantry. The key factor here is moisture: the place you store your sugar must be dry; otherwise, water will seep in and ruin your sugar.
Therefore, consider double-bagging your brown sugar with a freezer bag once it’s opened in order to keep bugs, moisture, and bacteria firmly out.
If you’re constantly using your sugar, get a cute little sugar container. This will stop you from having to undo a double-bagged packet all the time, plus it avoids bacterial growth after double-dipping. After all, brown sugar may not go bad, but the milk from your latte definitely does!
Although you should prevent unwanted moisture from entering your bag of sugar, it is also likely that, over time, your brown sugar will harden.
This isn’t a problem, though – you can do any of the following to solve hardened brown sugar:
- Use a sugar saver that automatically restores the water content of your sugar.
- Break the hardened clumps of sugar with a fork.
- Put your brown sugar into a freezer bag and smash the bag with a hammer.
- Use an electric mixer or blender to break up your brown sugar.
- Add moisture to your brown sugar by putting an apple wedge in the container and sealing it for 2 hours.
- Another way to add moisture to your sugar is by putting orange peel in the packet overnight.
- The fastest, simplest way to add moisture to your sugar is by pouring your brown sugar into a bowl, laying a slightly damp paper towel over the top, and microwaving it on low for 30 seconds.
Only soften the amount of brown sugar you intend to use. Hardened sugar is difficult to use, but it can be softened, and it doesn’t go bad. Sugar with too much water can harbor bacteria.
How Long Your Brown Sugar Will Last
Brown sugar is considered “shelf-stable” by the USDA, which means it’s fine to be stored at room temperature and will stay good indefinitely unless unwanted moisture or insects have got into the bag.
The best before date on your brown sugar will probably be about two years. After this point, the quality of your sugar may deteriorate, with less of a strong molasses flavor, but it should be safe to eat, cook, and bake with.
Brown Sugar: The Key Takeaways
There’s not much to worry about with brown sugar.
If it’s off, it’ll be obvious. Look for mold and insects.
Although brown sugar will basically stay good forever, it does harden over time, so try our nifty tricks to soften it up.