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Brown Sugar

  • 4 months to 6 months for maximum flavor
  • Storage Tip: It's VERY important to store brown sugar in an airtight container to retain its moisture and prevent it from becoming hard. Either store it in its original plastic bag, tightly closed, or transfer to an airtight container or a heavy moisture-proof plastic bag, such as a freezer bag.

To Soften Brown Sugar: Brown sugar becomes hard when the moisture in it has evaporated. Several methods have been suggested to help restore the moisture to brown sugar; here's an overview of those mentioned most frequently:

  • Oven Method. Heat the brown sugar in a 250 F oven for a few minutes. Watch it carefully and as soon as it is soft, measure the amount you need. When the sugar cools, it will become hard again. Warning: the sugar will be very hot.
  • Microwave Method. Place brown sugar in a microwave-safe container and cover loosely with a clean, white, wet (but not dripping wet) paper towel. Microwave on high (100 percent power) and check about every 30 seconds. When the sugar cools, it will become hard again. Warning: the sugar will be very hot.

White Granulated Sugar

  • 2 years
  • Storage Tip: Store sugar in an airtight container or a heavy moisture-proof plastic bag, such as a freezer bag. Properly stored sugar keeps indefinitely.

To Soften Hardened White Sugar: When white granulated sugar absorbs moisture, it becomes hard. Here are some possible suggestions for breaking up hard sugar:

  • Put hard sugar in a sturdy food-quality bag and pound it with a hammer, meat pounder or flat side of a meat mallet.
  • Smash smaller pieces with a mortar and pestle.
  • Break up small pieces in a spice grinder.

Tips on Buying a Sugar Storage Container: If you'd like to buy an airtight storage container for your white granulated sugar, these figures may help determine what size you'll need:

  • 1 pound of sugar = about 2 1/4 cups
  • 5 pounds of sugar = about 11 1/2 cups

If the container doesn't give the number of cups it will hold, these figures may help you:

  • 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup
  • 1 pint = 2 cups
  • 1 quart = 4 cups
  • 1 gallon = 16 cups

Before purchasing a container, assess where you will store the food to determine whether there are any space restrictions for your container. For example, is there a limit to the height of a container needed to fit onto a certain shelf.

Select a container that is easy to access when you need to measure out ingredients. Also, check to be sure the lid is easy to open and close tightly.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.