Does Brown Sugar Go Bad? (Safe To Use?)

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Brown sugar is an ingredient that many people use to make brownies, cookies, and many other baked treats. It’s also a great way to add sweetness and flavor to your morning oatmeal. But does brown sugar go bad? We have all been there, brown sugar at the bottom of the bag, and we can’t figure out if it’s still good or not. So, here are some guidelines on how long brown sugar lasts so you don’t end up tossing out something that could have been used for delicious desserts!

Does Brown Sugar Go Bad?

Yes, it can. When stored properly, brown sugar can be kept indefinitely. It will only go bad when not stored in an airtight container and kept at or below room temperature.

Brown sugar is a great ingredient to have around the house and, when stored properly, will be around for you to use for years.

Keep reading for more info on brown sugar and its uses.

Is Brown Sugar Bad When it Hardens?

No, Brown sugar is hard when it dries out because it has been left unsealed or improperly sealed. The moisture will evaporate and cause the sugar to harden. Brown sugar should be kept in an airtight container, such as a sealed canister or similar with a tight-fitting lid that seals completely.

It’s best to keep it sealed tightly. Some sugars are fine when exposed to the air like honey, but other sugars absorb moisture and form clumps like brown sugar.

Does Brown Sugar Mold?

Brown sugar typically does not get moldy because it has low water content. However, when left in humid environments, brown sugar can become too moist and provide an environment for bacteria growth, producing a musty aroma.

If you notice that your brown sugar has an odd smell and is discolored, it’s best to throw it out and replace it.

How Do You Tell if Brown Sugar is Bad?

While brown sugar will have an expiration date printed on the box, there are three signs to keep an eye out for when judging if brown sugar is not good to use.

Bad Smell

If the brown sugar has a funny smell, it is likely spoiled, and it’s best not to use it.


If you see any bugs, whether dead or alive, then the sugar was not sealed properly and is no longer safe to use.


If you see mold or any other spots that look fuzzy or shouldn’t be there, throw the sugar away.

What is the Shelf Life of Brown Sugar?

The shelf life of brown sugar is indefinite. Brown sugar is brown because it contains molasses, which is a natural preservative. The addition of molasses will prevent it from spoiling, but it must be appropriately stored in an airtight container and kept away from heat.

Moisture and heat are the main enemies of brown sugar. If not kept in a tightly sealed container and at room temperature or cooler, mold can quickly begin to grow, ruining the sugar and causing a telltale foul odor.

What's the Best Way to Store Brown Sugar?

When storing brown sugar, it is critical to keep it in an airtight sealed container. In addition, you should store any granulated sugars in tightly sealed moisture-proof containers. Some good examples are Ziploc bags or Tupperware containers.

Brown sugar should be stored at room temperature and not left out for longer than two hours, which can cause the brown sugar to harden and lose its flavor.

Is brown sugar wet or dry?

Technically brown sugar is a dry ingredient. However, some may ask if it is wet due to the molasses that covers each granule. The molasses will give the sugar a light coating and provide the wet feeling the sugar is known for.

Should Brown Sugar Be Refrigerated?

Refrigerating brown sugar is a matter of preference. Brown sugar can be kept refrigerated if it is stored in a tightly sealed container. This will maintain the freshness of your brown sugar and prolong its shelf life. Wherever you decide to keep it should be a dry place that does not cause condensation inside the package or jar.

If storing your brown sugar in the fridge, put it into an airtight container with some moisture absorber such as rice bran, breadcrumbs, cornmeal to keep it from clumping up.

Can I Store Brown Sugar in a Mason Jar?

Yes, storing brown sugar in a mason jar is a great idea. The mason jar will keep the sugar safe from moisture and air due to the airtight seal the lid will provide. Make sure the brown sugar-filled mason jar is stored in a cool and dry location.

What Can You Do With Hardened Brown Sugar?

Hardened brown sugar is still usable, but it will not have the same flavor. When baking, hardened brown sugar will be tough to measure accurately. If you don’t want to soften the brown sugar or throw it out, it can be dissolved in foods and drinks. A couple of good uses for hardened brown sugar include sweetening coffee or tea.

How do you Store Brown Sugar Without it Hardening?

However, if you feel like you need a bit more help keeping your brown sugar from hardening, there a few ways to fix the issue: Brown sugar should be kept in an airtight container to prevent hardening. The container should then be sorted in a cool and dry location.

  • Use a terra cotta sugar saver – terra cotta sugar savers are designed to keep the sugar moist by slowly releasing moisture into the sugar.
  • Add marshmallows to the bag or container – adding marshmallows has been know to help keep brown sugar from hardening.
  • Use bread or apples inside the container – bread and apples have natural moisture in them. Adding them to the brown sugar will allow the sugar to absorb the moisture and keep it soft.

How do you Soften Brown Sugar?

If you’re looking at a bag of hardened sugar that needs to be used, place apple wedges in with it and seal the zip-lock. The sugar will quickly soften as they release their natural sugars into the bag or other sealed container.

If you are in a rush and can’t wait for brown sugar to soften, use the following simple trick. Place roughly the amount you need in a microwave-safe bowl with a slightly dampened paper towel on top and then microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Depending on how soft or hard you like the brown sugar, you may need to adjust the time for a second attempt.

Can You Make Brown Sugar Out of White Sugar?

Brown sugar is made by refining the sugar cane molasses until it is brown. It has a flavor that can’t be replicated by just using white sugar, so if you want to make your own brown sugar and not buy it pre-made, there are two ways for you to do this.


One way is called “steaming,” which involves boiling water in an open pot with refined sugar cane syrup (or raw cane juice). You will see bubbles beginning to form on top as carbon dioxide gets released from the solution into the air above due to heat being applied.

There should also be constant stirring going on to prevent scorching or burning of sugars at any time during the heating process. This method only takes about 15 minutes total before all visible signs of raw sugar disappear.


The second way, called “panning,” takes about 40 minutes total. This process requires a little more work, but it is definitely worth the time investment if you want to produce brown sugar in large quantities because you can use up your white sugar for this cooking method and end up with a new batch of brown sugar after only one ’round.’

The steps take place over two pots: boiling water in one pot mixed with raw cane juice or syrup (you should be able to find these products at grocery stores) will eventually turn into liquid as it’s exposed to heat; on top of that hot mixture, add either some granulated light or dark-colored refined sugars until they start crystallizing around the edge of the pot; then slowly pour them out into a container that will allow them to cool and harden.

How do you soften brown sugar with apples?

Apples are a great way to soften brown sugar if you don’t need it right away. Brown sugar will draw moisture from the apples and make the sugar soft again.

Add a few slices to a bag with the sugar. Store this in a cool and dry area for a couple of days. This will give the sugar enough time to soften.

Final Thoughts

Brown sugar will keep for as long as you need it as long as it is stored properly. Please keep it in an airtight container, and be sure the temperature doesn’t get too warm. Room temperature or below is best.

Dry and crystallized brown sugar can be salvaged, assuming it isn’t moldy and doesn’t smell bad. Crystallized brown sugar can be used as is but difficult to work with since it can’t easily be divided into precise measurements.

You can rehydrate brown sugar with a couple of apple slices placed in a sealed container with the brown sugar. You can also moisten a paper towel and place it over a microwaveable bowl with the brown sugar inside. 30 seconds should help the moisture from the paper towel soften the brown sugar.

Keep your brown sugar appropriately stored in the future, and you shouldn’t have any more problems with it becoming unusable.

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