Brown sugar is a key ingredient in many desserts and provides much-needed flavor. It works well in your favorite cookie recipes, sprinkled on top of your oatmeal, or as the main ingredient in lots of our holiday baking. However, if you've had a bag of it in your cupboard for a while, you might wonder—does brown sugar go bad? Is there a point when you should get rid of it?
If you want to learn more, you've come to the right place. Read on to learn more about shelf life and storage. Let's get started!
Brown sugar is best used within six months of opening the package. If you do keep the sugar for longer, make sure you store it in an airtight container.
Expiration date and usage
It's perfectly safe to eat brown sugar past its expiration date. While some recommend that it can last 2+ years, you will find that the taste and texture are significantly affected after six months.
I recommend using it within six months of opening the package. You can store an unopened package in the freezer to prolong its shelf life.
The main thing you want to look for is mold or organic growth of any kind. So toss it if you see either of those things. And it obviously goes without saying that any bug infestation means you must throw it out!
Microwave softening method
Brown sugar won't go bad quickly, but it tends to harden if exposed to air. Luckily, this air doesn't impact the taste of the sugar.
Here is the process for softening in the microwave:
- Place the hardened clumps in the microwave with a damp paper towel.
- Cover the bowl and microwave the sugar in twenty-second increments.
- Mash with a fork to separate the lumps.
The sugar will be hot coming out of the microwave, so be sure you carefully handle the bowl.
Brown sugar has the potential to last for a long time if stored correctly. Here are some of my favorite storage tips.
- Place a slice of bread in an airtight container with the sugar to keep it moist.
- Use a brown sugar bear (soaked in water) to add moisture.
- Store it in the original bag and place it inside a tightly sealed zip-top bag.
Any of these options above will ensure the sugar is soft and ready for you to measure in all your favorite baked goods. For example, brown sugar is the star in the topping of my apple cinnamon upside down cake.
It can be tricky to tell if there is something wrong with your brown sugar. Things like hardening or color change might not mean that it has gone bad, just that it is getting older.
If you store it properly, brown sugar can last up to two years on a shelf. However, the flavor and texture will fade after about six months. You can soften dry and clumped sugar in the microwave.