So again you are baking your favorite cookies and you know you have
brown sugar but find its a solid mass!
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This stuff can become like the Rock of Gibraltar. You could probably quarry diamonds from it.
What do you do?
You might be tempted to grab nice heavy rolling pin and beat it into submission. Maybe you consider throwing it in your blender or possibly even the food processor. Don’t, this stuff can be hard! Hard enough to do damage.
Why does it get hard in the first place? Other kinds of sugar don’t require special handling.
Basically, each crystal of sugar is en-robed in molasses. When its fresh, this layer of molasses allows the sugar crystals slide past each other. If the brown sugar is left exposed to air, the water in the molasses will evaporate. As a result the sugar crystals get glued to each other as the molasses dries until it hardens into a solid mass.
Fortunately molasses is hygroscopic, meaning it loves water or moisture. The real trick is getting the moisture back into the molasses without dissolving or melting the whole mass and rendering it useless.
Over time several methods have been stumbled upon, some work better than others. Pick one and give it a try.
Most are gradual:
Bread: If you have the foresight to know you’re going to need brown sugar in the next day or so, this method works. Seal brown sugar in an airtight container with a piece of bread (its best if the cut side of the bread doesn’t touch the sugar.) . The moisture in the bread will move into the sugar and soften it. The bread will have absorbed some of the molasses where it touches the sugar, turning the top layer of sugar lighter brown or white, but you can just discard that and proceed. (Don’t use this as a long term solution. Bread will mold and ruin everything)
Apples: Basically the same idea as the bread concept, but will add a nice fall flavor! Place brown sugar alongside a few apple slices, and a day or two later it’s all good.(Don’t use this as a long term solution either. Apples will spoil and ruin everything)
Marshmallows: Also the same idea as the bread concept, but without altering the flavor like apples will. Just toss a few in with the brown sugar and wait a day or two.(Do these things ever spoil? Or do they just become rocks themselves?)
Brown Sugar Saver: Usually made of Terracotta or Clay. You just soak them in water until saturated and put them in the container with the brown sugar (Note: they can also be used dry to absorb moisture from spices to keep them dry.)
Others are Fast:
Microwave: If you just can’t wait. Place hard brown sugar in a bowl and drape a dampened paper towel over the bowl. Microwave for 10 to 20 seconds a intervals, break up the clumps between each interval of heating. Don’t microwave too much. If you overheat the sugar it will melt and be ruined. The idea is to simply heat the water in the paper towel enough that it moves into the sugar enough to allow the sugar crystals to separate.
To keep this from happening in the first place. Store it properly: Two words come to mind for this: Air-tight. Air, as noted above, is the enemy of moist brown sugar, it carries away moisture and dries out the sugar. So you’ll want to store it in a container that’s completely cut off from air flow. Roll up the bag tightly, squeezing out any air, and wrap it securely with a rubber band. For extra precaution, store the original bag in a sealed plastic zip-top bag or some other sealed container. Some even buy special Brown Sugar Containers with slots for Sugar Savers built in.
For other tips visit JaquesKitchen