Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keeping Brown Sugar Soft

In our last post on apple crumble, we used brown sugar. Brown sugar frustrates many a cook since when it dries out, it solidifies into a useless lump. Here's some advice on keeping it soft and "refreshing" it, should it turn into a useless lump in your pantry.

First, store it properly. Keep it sealed up in a plastic bag or a tight sealing air-tight container. You need to keep the moisture in the sugar. If there are holes in your plastic bag, even little ones, the moisture will evaporate and you have a useless lump of sugar.

What if you discover your brown sugar has dried out? If you don't need it right away, put the sugar in a tightly sealing air-tight container. Lightly wrap a slightly damp paper towel in some plastic wrap and place that in the container with the sugar. You don't need a lot of moisture to refresh the sugar. Too much moisture, and the sugar will dissolve. The sugar will slowly absorb the moisture from the towel, softening in the process. Once the towel is dry, the sugar should be soft again and you can discard the paper towel. If you keep it stored in an airtight container, it will stay soft a long time.

If you need the sugar right away, you can microwave it to soften it up. Put a cup of it in a covered dish and microwave for 30-60 seconds. If it isn't soft after a minute, try another 30 seconds. Watch it carefully because if it's microwaved too long, it will melt. If you use this method, and don't use up all the sugar you softened, you should use the damp towel method for the rest. After the sugar cools, it's going to solidify into a useless lump again.

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