How Long Does Sugar Last? Can It Go Bad?
A kitchen is not complete if sugar is absent. It is an essential cooking and baking ingredient that is used most of the time. Sugar is made up of molecules derived and refined from plant fluids. It is an ingredient that makes desserts, pastries, coffees, teas, and other spreads sweet and yummy. And it serves as a preservative for marmalades, fruit preserves, and jams.
Stocking sugar in bulk gives you the luxury to use it anytime you wish. And, it saves you time rather than buying in retail packs. The next thing you have to ensure is to preserve it well.
In this post, you will gain some sweet information on how to store sugar the best way.
How to store sugar?
Sugar has different varieties. And each variety differs in their color, texture, and taste. Note that each type of sugar requires different methods of storage. So, stick with us for a while and find out how you should store such a sugar type.
- Granulated Sugar
Granulated sugar is simply your white sugar, table sugar, refined sugar or the “regular sugar”.
Store granulated sugar in an airtight container and keep it in your pantry or in a dry place at room temperature. This will help prevent insects from invading your sugar, and it will make a suitable container for you to easily scoop out the amount of sugar you need.
Make sure to keep your sugar correctly covered to avoid moist exposure. It’s also not advisable to keep sugar in the refrigerator. A bottle of sugar exposed to moisture will form clumps. Keep it separately from other spices and aromatic ingredients because sugar is a strong absorber of any kind of scents.
- Brown sugar
Brown sugar is known as unrefined or partially refined sugar that contains molasses. The left molasses in this kind of sugar is the one that makes it brown. Brown sugar is also known for its high moisture content, making it prone to form clumps when exposed to a moistened environment. So, keep your brown sugar in an airtight container to hold its moisture and prolong its shelf life.
You may also store your brown sugar in the freezer. If ever you want to use it soon, defrost for several hours before baking. If you have a sudden need to use that frozen brown sugar, heat it quickly in the microwave.
As much as possible, keep your brown sugar away from the air exposure so that it won’t quickly dry up as hard as a brick.
Here are 5 ways to extend the storage period of your brown sugar:
- Use brown sugar saver
- Keep in an airtight container
- Use marshmallows if there’s no brown sugar saver
- Store it together with apple and bread
- Heat it with the microwave when it hardens
- Powdered sugar
The other names for powdered sugar are icing sugar, confectioners’ sugar, or 10X sugar. It’s made from milled granulated sugar that is finely grounded to a powdered state.
Just like any type of sugar, you can keep more than a year. An unopened pack of powdered sugar can last indefinitely. However, if you don’t store it properly, it will be more prone to insect infestation and clump formation. Improper storage of powdered sugar will form clumps, and it can absorb any odors surrounding it, which can indeed affect its taste.
Therefore, it is essential to store it away from moisture and keep it in an airtight container once opened, and store it in the pantry at room temperature. Keep it away from heat exposure, or else it will melt. It is also okay to keep the unopened powdered sugar package in the freezer there is still a possibility the clumps will form.
Does it go bad?
It is essential to check the best before date of any product to have an idea of how long you’ll get to have its freshness before it deteriorates or expires.
For sugar’s case, it doesn’t go bad! Table sugar, molasses, brown sugar, and powdered sugar all have an indefinite shelf life. However, it is said that it is best to use brown and powdered sugar within two years. Though it’s still acceptable to use it after a couple of years, the quality will not be the same as the fresh ones.
What’s more? Sugar lacks water, which makes it unable for molds and bacteria to thrive! Sugar is hygroscopic. In other words, it contains water-loving molecules that attract or absorb water. This way, it deprives bacteria of the water it needs to survive. And that’s why sugar is used to preserve jams, marmalades, chocolates, and other sweet preserved products for an extended period.
However, if you don’t store sugar properly, it will affect its quality in texture and appearance.
How will I know if sugar has gone bad already?
Remember that if you find that your sugar has formed lumps, don’t throw it away immediately. That doesn’t mean it has already deteriorated. That’s only a sign that it was exposed to moisture. You’ll just have to break up the sugar lumps and use it the usual way. Next time, just keep it in proper storage.
The sugar’s quality can go bad due to improper storage conditions. Sugar can easily absorb odor and lose its sweet fragrance. Throw it away if it had already lost its sugary smell.
We know that it is difficult for molds and bacteria to survive in a sugary environment, but it is susceptible to insect infestation. Or else, it will turn out as a great day for the ants to celebrate and happily line up to gather those tiny sweet crystals back to their colony. This is why you have to store your sugar in an opaque, airtight, and moisture-proof container.
Yes, sugar is not the best environment for molds to survive. However, there’s a but! When water can get into your pack of sugar, that will be the happy day for the molds to grow and spread inside the container. If you see molds have already formed in your sugar, throw it out.
What should I do with hardened sugar?
One day, you might find your sugar already hard as a brick. That means it has lost its natural moisture and has dried up. It actually happens to any type of sugar when it is stored in inappropriate conditions.
To fix your hardened sugar back to its normal state is to restore the moisture it loses. There are several items you can use:
- Use slices of Apple. Slice the apple into four and remove its core where the seeds lay. Place the sliced apples on top of your hardened sugar that is placed in an airtight container. Seal the container properly and store it in a cool and dry place overnight. This will give the sugar time to absorb the moisture of the apples, and your sugar will slowly soften. Use a fork to flake off the sugar on the next day. Then, there you have it!
- Try the damp paper towel method. Use a damp towel to cover your container that is filled with hardened sugar. Then, cover the whole thing with a cling wrap overnight to allow the damp paper towel to work its wonders to soften that sugar clump. On the next day, use a fork to flake off the sugar.
- Soften it using the microwave. Using the microwave is the best method to soften hardened brown sugar. It works for other types of sugar as well. Put your brick-hard sugar in a microwavable container. Prepare a damp towel then place your container with the hardened sugar on top of it. Ensure that you cover the container with a plate or lid and microwave for at least 20 seconds. Extend for another round in the microwave if the sugar has not softened yet. After that, use a fork to break off the clump.
- “Bake” it in the oven. This method is usually done with hardened white sugar. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the hardened sugar on a pan lined with parchment paper. After preheating, place the pan with hardened sugar in the oven and have it “baked” for 10-15 minutes. Turn the oven off after “baking” and let the sugar rest or cool down up to an hour. Lastly, remove it from the oven then use a fork to loosen the softened sugar.
Generally, sugar cannot go bad, and it can even last up to two years if stored in the best conditions.
As a whole, keep sugar in an airtight container to avoid pest infestation and excessive moisture and odor absorption that causes lumping. Once you open a pack of sugar, make sure to immediately transfer its contents to a new container.
Remember: It is always best to store sugar in a dry place. It could either be in your pantry, cupboard, or in an appropriate place at room temperature. Refrigerating your sugar is not the best way to do it. And keep it away from heat at all times.
And if ever your sugar hardens, try the methods mentioned above.