Sugar is basically a staple in our daily lives these days. Whether you’re a baker, a caffeine addict, or simply someone who can’t say no to a little sweetness now and then, you’re going to keep the good stuff on hand.
While many keep white sugar in stock as their go-to, brown sugar has remained a popular alternative and addition.
Brown sugar has a long history as the first form of sugar to be used for culinary purposes. Today, many people prefer it over all other types of sugar due to its nutritional value and health benefits.
As with anything that’s kept on hand for long periods of time, you might wonder sooner or later how long you can keep it around and if there’s any way to increase its shelf life.
So, can you freeze brown sugar? Yes, it’s quite easy to freeze brown sugar indefinitely. You’ll just want to make sure you use a well-sealed container and kept in the coldest part of the freezer away from fragrant foods.
You probably won’t need to freeze brown sugar since it already lasts indefinitely.
But some sugar brands recommend using it within six months of purchase. Since this type of sugar is more prone to clumping and spoiling, you may decide you want to freeze it.
Read on to learn more about freezing different types of brown sugar and some things you’ll want to keep in mind as you do.
Can You Freeze Brown Sugar?
As we said, you can definitely freeze brown sugar. In fact, it might even be a good idea.
Unlike white sugar, brown sugar can quickly become clumpy or spoil, so you have more reason to consider freezing it than you might for regular sugar, despite its shelf life.
After all, if you’re like most people, you’re gonna wanna keep that sweet stuff around on the kitchen counter, dining table, or at least in the cupboard all the time.
It is not recommended that you refrigerate brown sugar. As we said, although brown sugar lasts more or less indefinitely, it is recommended to use it quickly to preserve the most flavor.
So if you’re not able to use it within six months or so of purchase, you will want to freeze it.
Brown sugar also keeps better in a cool, moist environment. The presence of moisture in the air is what keeps brown sugar from hardening. If you live in a dryer environment, you may prefer to freeze some of your brown sugar anyway to minimize hardening.
Fortunately, nothing in brown sugar’s texture or makeup will be harmed by freezing. It is also a fairly simple process and you only need to keep a few considerations in mind.
How to Freeze Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is generally softer than white sugar due to the addition of molasses which generally means that you need to keep it away from air.
Unlike white sugar, it can easily reach an unpleasant state that makes it appear to be spoiled.
Fortunately, freezing brown sugar is an easy and beneficial option. However, there are a few things to be aware of.
The most common issue with freezing or refrigerating any sugar is that it is extremely absorbent of odors. This means that if you store it next to very fragrant foods, even in the cupboard, it might pick up some of those flavors.
Your brown sugar may not necessarily spoil, but you probably don’t want your coffee to have hints of the tomato bisque you froze last month.
We’ll cover ways to get around this issue as we go through the simple freezing process.
Step 1: Pick an Airtight Container
When you freeze brown sugar, you will want a trustworthy airtight container that will not allow any air to break in. This will help keep unwanted odors out and also keep your brown sugar from spoiling.
As we said before, sugar is one of the most absorbent foods out there and brown sugar is generally more absorbent than regular white sugar.
We recommend buying a couple of new storage boxes instead of using old ones. Old containers could potentially have retained the odor of previously-stored foods.
The second issue with old containers is their airtight properties. You can never be sure that an old container is truly airtight. The more you open a container, the less airtight it becomes.
Since you need to limit air exposure, we also recommend using smaller containers for brown sugar, whether it is for freezing or regular shelf storage.
This is because every time you open a large container, it will allow new air inside the box.
This will slowly but surely make your brown sugar lose its softness and turn into harder crystals or unpleasant chunks of brown sugar. Therefore, consider using several smaller containers if you have a lot of brown sugar to freeze.
As a last stand, you can use a resealable freezer bag, if you don’t want to buy new containers for brown sugar. It is a suitable alternative since many homes already have freezer bags on hand.
Step 2: Find a Suitable Location in the Freezer
We recommend placing brown sugar near the coldest spot since it is a moister type of sugar. Try not to keep it near the door, as that part of the freezer suffers from greater temperature fluctuations.
Nevertheless, remember to keep it as far away as possible from fragrant foods in the freezer. Nobody wants brown sugar that smells like fish, right?
Of course, most people have freezers full of food and there is not much space to choose from. If this is the case, consider re-arranging the frozen foods so that your sugar is away from fragrant ingredients.
Differences in Freezing Light Vs. Dark Brown Sugar
The difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses it contains. Molasses is added to refined white sugar to create brown sugar.
The more molasses added, the darker the brown sugar. Light brown sugar often has a molasses content of around 3.5%, while dark brown sugar will be up to about 6.5%.
The amount of moisture in the sugar should increase with the amount of molasses, although the difference may be a subtle one.
You will want to freeze and store light and brown sugar more or less the same way, but keep the differences in moisture content in mind.
The moister the sugar is, the more likely it will benefit from fewer temperature fluctuations and be in need of a truly airtight container.
How to Use Frozen Brown Sugar
Using your frozen brown sugar is simple: just let it defrost for about 2-3 hours before you use it.
If you notice ice crystals have formed while the brown sugar was in the freezer, stir it as soon as you can after it thaws.
Although moisture in the air is beneficial, moisture in the brown sugar container is not ideal. By stirring the brown sugar gently after it thaws, you can help prevent moisture damage.
Can You Freeze Muscovado?
Muscovado, which you may know as molasses sugar, is similar to brown sugar. It an is unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses and isn’t processed as long as white or regular brown sugar.
Muscovado is known for its strong flavor as well as its stickier, moister texture when compared to brown sugar.
It is considered healthier than more refined sugars like white or brown sugar, but it can also be more expensive.
It also has a much shorter shelf life. When kept at room temperatures above 65 F, muscovado may last less than a full year.
Freezing muscovado would be a great way to extend its life. The considerations are more or less the same as they would be for brown sugar.
To freeze muscovado, follow the same basic steps:
- Pick an airtight container, especially a brand new one that you know will still have a trusty seal.
- Place it in the coldest spot in the fridge so it won’t suffer temperature fluctuations.
- As always, keep it away from really fragrant foods. Muscovado can still absorb other odors just like brown sugar can. With its unique sweet, then bitter, flavor, you really don’t want muscovado to taste like other foods.
Can you Freeze Granulated Sugar?
It does not matter whether you have granulated sugar, powdered sugar, or brown sugar – the correct freezing method is basically the same. All you need is a suitable airtight container and a good location in your freezer.
However, it is worth noting that it is likely not necessary to ever freeze regular white granulated sugar. It lasts indefinitely at room temperature and is less sensitive to spoiling.
To freeze granulated white sugar, follow the same steps as you would to freeze brown sugar:
Step 1: Pick a Suitable Container
We already discussed the most common issue with freezing or refrigerating sugar: it is extremely absorbent which often results in spoiled sugar with an awful taste.
You will still want an airtight container that will not allow any air to break in. Again, we recommend buying new storage containers or at least opting for those with an airtight seal if you can.
Just as before, you will want to consider using new containers that are more likely to have a good seal and less likely to let in other odors.
Step 2: Find a Suitable Location in the Freezer
No matter if you used a brand new container or an old one, consider this rule: find a good location that is as far from other foods as possible. If your freezer is overfilled, at least try to put it away from fish or other foods with strong odors.
As rare as it may be, you can throw your granulated white sugar on the freezer door or somewhere far from the coldest spot. The temperature changes around the freezer door will not cause a negative effect on the sugar as they would on meat or sauces.
In most cases when we discuss freezing food, we recommend putting the food as close to the coldest spot in the freezer as possible.
In this case, we know you might have foods that are more important to store and that this exact location will be filled with other ingredients.
How to Soften Brown Sugar
It’s happened to all of us. You go to spice up your morning coffee or make a batch of gingerbread cookies, only to find your brown sugar has gone all clumpy.
There are several easy ways to soften brown sugar:
Soften Brown Sugar in the Microwave
If you want a quick solution to soften your brown sugar for immediate use, use the microwave.
Simply put the desired amount of brown sugar in a bowl that is microwave-safe. Cover it with a couple of wet paper towels and cook it on HIGH for about 11/2-2 minutes. Use a fork to separate the clumps.
You will want to use your brown sugar quickly because it will harden as it cools.
Soften Brown Sugar in the Oven
This is an easy solution if you don’t have a microwave or want to soften all of your sugar at once. All you need to do is preheat the oven to 250 F and pour the brown sugar into an oven-safe pan.
It should take about 5 minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on it and check it frequently. As soon as the brown sugar has softened, remove it from the oven and pan.
When the sugar cools, you can transfer it to a clean, dry container and store it again.
Soften Brown Sugar with Time
This is a slow but simple solution if you notice clumps in your brown sugar.
All you need to do is wrap the brown sugar in aluminum foil and put it in a new container with a tight seal. On top of the foil, place two wet paper towels and seal the container.
The sugar will absorb the moisture from the paper towels and soften within about two days. Then you can remove the towels, divide the clumps of brown sugar with a fork and stir.
The sugar should still be soft when you open the container again the next time you use it.
Where Does Sugar Come From?
The process of extracting sugar begins with cutting the beets into small slices. This increases the portions from which the sugar is extracted. The extraction takes place in a diffuser, where the reed stays for about an hour in warm water.
The diffuser is a large moving container in which the pieces of beet or sugar cane move slowly from one end to the other as the water moves in the opposite direction. This is called backflow.
The faster and the more that the water moves, the stronger the solution, which is usually called an essence. The pieces passed through the diffuser are wet and then squeezed into specialized squeezers to extract the maximum amount of essence.
What follows is a cleansing of the essence before it starts to turn into sugar. In other words, this is the process of the so-called “carbonization”.
This is the formation of small clots of limestone that collect all the non-sugar particles and after filtration, a pure essence remains.
The last step in extracting sugar is to place the liquid in a large pan, which usually holds about 60 tons of sugar syrup. The water begins to boil and evaporate until sugar crystals begin to form.
The mixture of crystals and essence is then centrifuged to separate. The crystals are dried with hot air and ready for packaging.
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