How to Soften Hardened Sugar

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Written by Bernie Carr

If you’ve tried storing either white or brown sugar, you might find your stored sugar has hardened when you’re ready to use it.

What causes sugar to harden?

Usually, the reason your store sugar hardens is because of lack of moisture, especially if you live in a dry climate. If you stored sugar for long term and accidentally placed an oxygen absorber when you stored your sugar in Mylar bags or food sealer bag, it will likely get hard and clumpy. (Oxygen absorbers are not needed for storing sugar and salt in Mylar bags.) If you realize you’ve placed oxygen absorbers in your previously stored sugar, don’t worry. I’ve done it as well, it’s nothing to worry about. Your sugar will still keep for years. When you open your stored sugar and find that it has hardened, fear not, you will still be able to use it.

Sometimes, sugar, especially brown sugar, will harden while it’s just sitting in the counter or pantry. There are a few ways to soften it up so you can use it.

Ways to soften hardened sugar

Use a food processor

If you have a food processor, just use it to process your hardened, clumpy sugar into fine flakes.

Use a microwave

Pour the clumpy sugar into a large, microwave safe bowl. Spritz the top of the sugar with a little bit of water. Microwave the sugar on high for about three minutes. Take it out and press down with a spoon or spatula. The sugar should be easy to break up.

Wet paper towel

Place the sugar in a jar. Moisten a paper towel and place it on top of the sugar. Leave it overnight. The next day, the sugar will have absorbed the moisture of the paper towel. Remove the paper towel and use a spoon to break up the sugar.

Piece of bread

This is the same kitchen hack as placing a piece of bread with cookies or brownies that have hardened. Place a piece of bread in the sugar jar. Cover the jar and leave it overnight. The next day, you will find that the bread has hardened and the sugar has moistened enough that you can easily break up the clumps.

Orange rind

This is the one I use most frequently. After slicing your orange (preferably organic), take a few pieces of the rind and place them in a jar or bag with the hardened sugar. Leave it in there for one to two days. The sugar will soften and the orange rind will dry out and be covered with sugar. This is actually safe to eat. It will taste like candied orange peel.

Add orange rind to stored sugar that has hardened or gotten lumpy to make it easier to use.

Apple slice

The same thing can be done with an apple slice. Slice the apple into about eight pieces. Use one of the pieces and place it in a covered jar with your hardened sugar. Within a day or two, the sugar will soften. You can discard the apple slice and your sugar.

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About the author

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.






Hardened sugar

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