How To Keep Sugar From Clumping

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Humans have found a way to use this magical ingredient in just about everything. As such, it’s become a kitchen staple.

You can buy it in many forms in most grocery stores: white sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar. Each type is a bit different.

Because sugar is such a universal kitchen staple, it’s an ingredient most people will have constantly sitting in their cupboards until you need it rather than one you only buy for a particular recipe.

Sugar can be very sensitive to environmental conditions. If you do not store it properly, it can become clumpy. The clumps don’t make the sugar inedible, but it can be hard to measure or even use sugar that has unwieldy clumps in it.

So, how do you keep sugar from clumping? You gotta go do about done and get it.

For many, the question is how to keep sugar from clumping in the first place. If you can store the sugar properly, avoiding clumps altogether is the most desirable option.

Don’t worry if you already have clumped up sugar in your pantry, though. There are things you can do to unclump your sugar. Read on for a closer look on keeping and restoring brown and white sugar.

How To Keep Brown Sugar From Clumping

Brown Sugar gets its name (and color) from the extra moisture it contains. The brown color is molasses.

When sugar undergoes the refining process, molasses is removed and sold as a separate product, except for the case of brown sugar. Most brown sugar is about 5% molasses.

This extra moisture is why brown sugar also has a different texture and will hold its shape if packed into a small container like a measuring cup.

If the brown sugar is not stored correctly, the moisture escapes and the sugar dries into little clumps.

This means the best way to keep brown sugar from clumping is to store it properly. So, how do you do that? Ideally, brown sugar needs to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place

Excess heat from the ambient temperature of the room or from light hitting the storage container and heating it up can cause the liquid in the sugar to evaporate. Enough heat can even cause the sugar to melt.

Extra humidity or moisture isn’t good either.

Once you have a good location to store your sugar, pay special attention to the container you choose to store your sugar in.

It doesn’t matter if the container is clear or not, but you should try to make sure you use a container with an airtight lid.

An airtight lid is important because it won’t let moisture escape. In the case of brown sugar, escaped moisture is the main cause of clumping.

An airtight lid will also keep away any pests that may be interested in making you sugar bin their next meal.

How To Unclump White Sugar

When trying to unclump white sugar, it can help to understand how white sugar is different from brown sugar.

If you took brown sugar and removed that last 5% of molasses, you would end up with white sugar. This means white sugar is a much drier product.

The lack of liquid in white sugar is why you most commonly find it in a granule form. Superfine white sugar also exists, but it’s mainly used for baked goods like cakes and cookies.

These small granules are so dry, in fact, that they easily dissolve into warm liquid like coffee, and can dissolve even in cold liquids with enough stirring. This is part of what makes white sugar so versatile in the kitchen.

If you find that your sugar is clumpy, there are a variety of ways to can unclump it. If you are going to use it right away, you can heat the sugar slightly.

If you microwave about 1/2 cup of sugar for 20 seconds, it can help soften the sugar without the sugar melting.

For the most part, the variety of ways to unclump your sugar all boil down to one thing: you have to find a way to remove the extra moisture that caused the sugar to get clumpy in the first place. 

Not sure where to start or which option is best? Let’s take a look at some different ways we can remove moisture from white sugar.

How To Remove Moisture From White Sugar

Depending on what you have on hand, there are quite a few ways to remove moisture from white sugar.

If you are going to use it immediately, heating it gently is a good option. However, if you want to remove the clumps and keep the sugar in storage we do not recommend heat.

One option is to simply squish it. If you have a few small clumps in a larger container or sugar, simply squeezing them between your fingers will separate them back into granules.

If there’s a lot of clumps, dump the sugar in your food processor and pulse it until the clumps dissolve. Once you have removed the clumps, you can put your sugar back in the container.

If you can figure out how to store it to prevent moisture from getting in, no more clumps will form. 

Another option would be to place something inside your sugar container to absorb the excess moisture. A common suggestion is to place a piece of bread in with your sugar. 

Be wary, however, as the moisture can cause bread to mold and may contaminate your sugar.

You can buy food-safe moisture absorbers (you’ll see these in prepackaged beef jerky, for example) and throw one or two into your sugar container. If you do this, please take care not to accidentally ingest the packet as it can make you sick.

An easy option that just about everyone already has at home for removing moisture from white sugar is rice.

Take a reusable tea bag or a small square of thin cloth. Add a tablespoon or two of rice, seal it shut, and place it in the middle of your sugar bin.

Change it out every so often as it absorbs ambient moisture, and you’ll be sure to have no-clump sugar.

Related Questions 

Now that we’ve gone over how to best preserve your sugar to keep it from clumping, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

What is the best way to store sugar?

The best way to store sugar is in a watertight container with an airtight lid. This will prevent any unwanted moisture from seeping into the sugar and causing clumps.

How do you keep salt from clumping?

Keeping salt from clumping is the same process as keeping white sugar from clumping. Salt is crystal, just like white granulated sugar.

Moisture makes the crystals stick together. The easiest thing to do is use either a moisture absorber or a rice bag.

For tabletop salt shakers, you can use a variation of the rice bag method. Since the holes on top of the salt shaker are smaller than the grains of rice, you can place a few grains of rice directly into the shaker.

This way won’t take up too much space in the relatively small salt shaker. Every time you refill your shaker, it’s a good idea to change out the rice as well.

How do you keep powdered sugar from clumping?

Powder sugar is so incredibly fine that even a little moisture can ruin it completely. To keep powdered sugar from clumping, store it in an airtight container with a lid.

Make sure both the container and lid are completely dry before putting powdered sugar in.

What is a sugar saver?

A sugar saver is a neat device that can help keep your sugar from clumping. Depending upon how you use it, a sugar saver can stop both brown sugar and white sugar from forming clumps.

Essentially a sugar saver is just a small circular piece of terracotta. Terracotta is a type of non-sealed pottery that both absorbs and releases moisture very easily.

To prevent white sugar from clumping, a sugar saver would be removed from the packaging and placed directly into your white sugar bin. It will absorb any excess moisture and keep the sugar dry.

To prevent brown sugar from clumping, first soak the sugar saver in water for about 15 minutes. Allow the excess water to drip off, then place in the brown sugar bin. This helps keep the sugar moist and prevent clumps.

How do you unclump salt?

Unclumping salt isn’t difficult; it’s all about choosing the right method for your needs. For the most part, you can unclump salt by adding either liquid, pressure, or heat

If you are dissolving the salt in a dish like soup, or you’re salting pasta water, go ahead and throw that clump right in. The liquid will break apart the clump and the salt will dissolve into the food like normal.

If you are using salt to spring on top of food, add pressure. You can crush the salt, either between your fingertips or by giving it a quick blitz in a food processor. Then you’ll have clumpless salt that will sprinkle evenly.

You can also use heat. If you spread the salt in a thin layer on a pan or baking sheet you can cook it on low heat, allowing the water that formed the clump to evaporate.

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