Does Sugar Go Bad?

Does sugar go bad or can it last forever? The short answer is that sugar does not expire but only if you store it correctly. Here's how you do it.

Sugar is one of those staple foods that is stored in the kitchen in ample quantities. Most of the homes in the US have different kinds of sugar stored away in the pantries. Sugar makes it to our tables through various beverages, desserts and delights.

Not only that, sugar acts as a preservative and an exfoliating agent as well. People have been using it in marmalades and jams and homemade body and face scrubs.

Chances are you’ve found a jar or bag of sugar sitting idly at the back of your cabinet and now you’re wondering if it’s even safe to use that opened bag of sugar.

Well, read on to know if sugar really expires or how to tell if it has gone bad.

Related:Does Brown Sugar Go Bad?Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad?Does Xylitol Go Bad?

Does Sugar Expire Or Go Bad?

If you happen to read the labels on the sugar packets and bags, you might have noticed that the product does not have an expiration date ever. Some brands use a ‘best before date’ which tells how long the quality of the sugar will last.

So, does sugar go bad?

Just like honey, sugar does not go rancid and lasts indefinitely if you know how to store it.

There’s a good reason why it does not.

Sugar is devoid of water, so it does not allow the growth of bacteria or mold. However, if moisture finds its way to the jar, you might see a few lumps forming in it. It all boils down to how well you store your sugar.

All the different sugar types like granulated white sugar, brown sugar, and raw sugar have an indefinite shelf life because they are produced through osmosis, which restricts the water content in them.

It’s important to note that the quality of some sugars can go down with time. It is advised to use brown sugar and powdered sugar within the first two years of packaging to enjoy the best taste.

How Long Can Sugar Last At Its Best Quality?

Although sugar does not go bad, it can develop a specific change in appearance over time. Hard lumps or clumped chunks can form into your sugar packet or jar. You might notice a difference in color or even texture, which might put you off – but it’s still technically edible.

Because of its chemical make-up, sugar tends to absorb odors from the atmosphere. You might find a change in the way it smells or even tastes.

Sugar also has hygroscopic properties, making it absorb moisture and causing it to harden and clump over time.

But here’s the deal.

You can always restore old, clumped sugar by crushing it to a granular form. You can do it by using a grinder or a food processor. Or simply by using a plastic Ziplock and a rolling pin to crush it. Put the lumps in the plastic bag – seal it and crush the lumps by hammering down the rolling pin.

If you prefer to use fresh sugar, then it’s advised to check the best-before, best-by, or sell-by dates that are printed on the packages before use. Note that sugar past these dates is still safe for consumption.

How To Tell If Your Sugar Is Ready To Bin

It’s important to know when to throw away your sugar. Although sugar has an indefinite shelf life, its quality can deteriorate if pantry pests or insects find their way into the storage.

If you find dead or crawling insects inside the packet, it’s safe to throw away that sugar and not consume it. Sugar can also develop mold or microbial growth if the water has got into the packet or container.

If you notice a weird smell, that’s definitely a sign that your sugar should get dumped!

How To Keep Sugar Smooth & Lump-Free

Be mindful of how you store your sugar in the pantry since external factors can affect its quality. The best way to keep sugar fresh and smooth is to keep it in a cool and dry place.

Some of the most helpful and practical storage tips are listed down below.

Storage Tips For Sugar

  • Keep the packet or jar of sugar in a place where there is zero chance of a spill or moisture absorption.
  • Never store sugar in the fridge as it needs to be stored at an optimal room temperature with low moisture.
  • Transfer contents of an opened packet into an airtight container or jar to keep out the moisture and bugs.
  • Ensure the sugar is stored away from heat sources since warmth can cause condensation and make it clump or harden.
  • If you prefer placing a piece of bread in your sugar, make sure to replace it regularly so it may not develop mold.

To Sum It Up

Sugar does not expire, but it can easily be stored at a cool, dry place to elongate its best quality. It is perfectly fine to use clumped sugar by restoring it to a granular form. However, any weird smells or signs of creepy crawlies or mold and you should chuck your sugar.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.