Want to Know Does Brown Sugar Go Bad? Here’s Your Answer!

I’ve decided to write this text a couple of days ago when I found a container with brown sugar that has been stored in my pantry since as long as I remember. So thanks spring cleaning for helping me find it! The only question remaining now is: Is it safe to use it?

In inspected it carefully, it didn't have any odd smells, but it did look hard and weird. I asked Google and a couple of my friends what do they have to say about it, and I would like to share my findings with you, just in case spring cleaning leads you to your bowl of forgotten sugar.

So, if you want to know what I've learned and found out does brown sugar go bad, read on for further info.

Brown Sugar Expiration Date (in Ideal Conditions)

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The label on brown sugar package usually reads "best within two years". This is the timeframe when sugar can be safely used for cooking. However, brown sugar does not have an expiration date, which means that it can last forever.

Don’t take this information for granted, though. It is only true when you’ve stored the brown sugar in an air-tight container (originally-sealed) in the pantry or some other not too dry, not too humid, and dark place. Also, the flavor of brown sugar is best within six months of purchasing the product.

So, what about my brown sugar? Well, although it was stored in the pantry, and it has been a couple of years since I left it there, I didn’t store it in its original container, which means I can’t be sure it is safe to use.

How to Tell if the Sugar Is Spoiled?​

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This has been by far the most useful information I could get, so I hope you’ll find it useful too. Even though brown sugar can’t exactly go bad, it can change the texture.

Also, as with any food past its expiration date, it does carry certain health risks. As you probably understand, my family’s health is my top priority, and I would rather throw away a couple of pounds of sugar than put them at risk.

Each type of sugar reacts in a different way to the aging process. When brown sugar has been around longer than its "best within two years", it will turn from a squeezable form into a hard lump. However, it is not beyond saving.

The only situation when you should get rid of the brown sugar stored for extended time is when bugs and other insects got to it before you.

How to Restore Brown Sugar?

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Lucky for me, large clumps of sugar that were made due to loss of moisture, are no reason to throw it away, and its previous texture can be easily restored. There are several ways to make the brown sugar usable again:

  • ​Add a slice of fresh bread to the bag/container where you keep the sugar and leave it for a day or two.
  • Do the same with a paper towel separated from the sugar by a plastic wrap.
  • Put a washed and dried orange peel in the container and leave it to the natural oils from orange to soften the sugar. The process will last for several hours.
  • For a quick solution, cover a bowl of brown sugar with a damp paper towel and microwave for no more than 20 seconds.
  • Use an electric mixer.
  • Put it in a bag and pound against a wall.
  • Break it with a fork.
  • Put an apple wedge (also check out some great apple peelers) into the sugar bag/container, seal it and keep it that way for a couple of hours.

How to Use Brown Sugar Quickly?

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If you’re anything like me, all the reassurance in the world won’t be able to persuade you that there aren’t any risks about using the sugar that has been stored for years, and if nothing else, you’ll want to get the most out of it in short timeframe.

I’ve used my restored brown sugar for two purposes: cooking and beauty.

Of course, I deserved some beautifying after all that spring cleaning, so guess what?

Momma's got herself a spa day.

Brown sugar proved to be an extremely useful ingredient for leg scrub, face scrub, body scrub, scalp scrub (divine feeling), foot scrub, lip exfoliator and face mask.

The following day, I’ve prepared some delicious treats for my husband and the boys. Let me share the recipes with you:

Brown Sugar Cookies

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My variation on the classic sugar cookies recipe. I've found that adding ginger and nutmeg add a unique flavor to the cookies and makes them very similar to the store-bought products. If you like it a bit sweeter, you can add a teaspoon of honey too, and glaze it with melted chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ spoon salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ spoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ spoon ground ginger
  • ½ spoon ground nutmeg​

Method:

  1. ​Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add egg and continue beating.
  4. Mix the other ingredients in a different bowl and then add them to the butter mixture.
  5. Drop large teaspoonfuls of dough onto an unbuttered cookie sheet.
  6. Bake about 10 minutes.

The “I’m Sorry” Brown Sugar Caramels

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I've accidentally dropped my husband's very sensitive sports memorabilia. After he had tried out these caramels, he forgave me right away. Besides, my sons even offered me to do the dishes and clean the house, so I like to call them “my magic caramels” too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (you can use low-fat to sooth your consciousness)
  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat combine all the ingredients except vanilla extract.
  2. Bring to a boil and stir for a couple of more minutes.
  3. Add the extract only after you remove it from heat.
  4. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan (or a lasagna pan).
  5. Pour the caramel into the buttered pan.
  6. Allow cooling at room temperature.
  7. After it is completely cool, cut into squares using scissors.
  8. Wrap individual pieces in cellophane or waxed paper.
  9. Wait for your husband to forgive you.

Be Smarter Next Time: How to Properly Store Brown Sugar?

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Now that I know all the hassle I gone through before I realized the brown sugar I stored (poorly) is safe to use, I will never store it like that again, and nor should you.

The very best way to avoid brown sugar from spoiling if you are planning on keeping it in the pantry for extended period of time of time is to keep it in its original air-sealed container. If that is not possible, you should put it in a vacuum sealed bag or any container that doesn’t allow air (e.g. glass jar), bugs or other contaminants to reach the sugar.

Don’t ever store it in the fridge, because the moisture and extreme cold can only make it go bad. Too much light can also be harmful. So your pantry, or kitchen cabinet, is the best place to keep it safe.

So, there you have it, your answer to the question does brown sugar go bad and my experience with salvaging the long ago forgotten pack of it.

With the help of a couple of friends and the almighty Google, I have managed to go from forgetful middle-aged mom to a superhero wife and mother who prepares delicious cookies and out of this world brown sugar caramels that melt in one's mouth.

Still, I’ve learned my lesson, and I will never leave a pack of improperly sealed sugar exposed to spoiling, and neither should you.

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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