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We’ve all experienced it: brown sugar that has gone hard. It isn’t very pleasant, and figuring out why this happens is not always easy.

Softening brown sugar is a simple process that can save you time and frustration in the kitchen. Whether you need it for a batch of chewy cookies, your favorite mint tea recipe, or homemade sugar scrub, softening brown sugar is the key to achieving the desired texture and flavor in your sweet treats.

Here are a few ways to soften it so you can use it again.

Why Does Brown Sugar Harden?

hardened brown sugar

Brown sugar contains molasses, giving it a rich caramel flavor and moist texture. However, due to its high moisture content, brown sugar tends to harden when exposed to air. The moisture evaporates, leaving behind hardened sugar crystals.

Here are some additional factors that can contribute to sugar hardening:

  • Moisture: Sugar can absorb moisture from high humidity or direct contact with water. When the moisture evaporates, sugar crystals can fuse together, causing hardening.
  • Temperature: Temperature changes affect sugar’s moisture content. For instance, if sugar is stored in a warm place and then rapidly cooled, condensation may form, leading to moisture absorption and eventual hardening.
  • Exposure to air: If sugar isn’t properly sealed or stored in an airtight container, exposure to air can cause moisture absorption and clumping, resulting in hardening.

Apple Slice

apple slices
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Yes, you can soften brown sugar with an apple slice. Just place a slice of fresh apple in an airtight container with the hardened sugar. Seal the container and let it sit for several hours or overnight until the sugar softens. This method really works!

In the Microwave

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Cover the hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl with a damp paper towel or cloth. Microwave it in 15-20 seconds intervals, checking between until the sugar softens to your desired consistency.

A Bread Slice

ssorted bread, slices of rye bread on linen tablecloths, grey wooden background
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Place a slice of fresh bread in an airtight container with the hardened brown sugar. Seal the container and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. The moisture from the bread will soften the sugar.


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Preheat your oven to a low temperature (around 250°F or 120°C). Cover the hardened sugar in an oven-safe container with aluminum foil. Heat it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking frequently, until the sugar softens. Be careful not to overheat or melt the sugar.

Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Saver

hardened brown sugar
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Move your brown sugar into a tight-sealed container, then add a piece of terra cotta saver (referred to as terracotta disk). This method gently reintroduces moisture into the sugar, ensuring it softens up nicely and evenly.

Food Processor

food processor baking
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You can use a food processor to mince the brown sugar into bits. The food processor will grind it back down to make it usable again. This is a quick and effective way to soften it again.

A Grater

Close up beautiful new grater on a wooden table and brown wall background.
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Using the biggest holes of the grater, grate the sugar over a solid bowl or plate. Slow and steady is the key.

Ziplock Bag

hardened brown sugar
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Put your clumpy sugar into a ziplock bag and add a little bit of water. Release all the air, Seal the bag, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, knead the sugar through the bag to evenly distribute the water and break up the clumps.

Homemade Brown Sugar Scrub

sugar scrub
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Made with natural ingredients, this homemade scrub is like a spa day for your skin, keeping it happy, healthy, and oh-so-radiant. Here’s a quick guide on how to create a homemade DIY Sugar Scrub.

Homemade Brown Sugar Scrub

12 Surprising Items in Your Kitchen that Need to Hit the Trash Immediately

updated kitchen
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The kitchen holds a special place in our homes, serving as a hub for cooking, meals, and gatherings. However, even though it’s the center of our daily lives, clutter, disarray, and items that have outstayed their welcome can easily accumulate in this space. Check out the 12 items in your kitchen that should be thrown away immediately.

12 Surprising Items in Your Kitchen that Need to Hit the Trash Immediately

15 Incredible Ways to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds in spoon
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Most people toss out used coffee grounds after making their morning cup of coffee, but what you might not know is that these grounds can actually be useful in many ways. You can repurpose them to do things like composting or cleaning, which can help reduce waste in your home. Here’s how.

15 Incredible Ways to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds

17 Maple Dessert Recipes

baking with maple syrup instead of sugar

Maple syrup is simply delicious and uniquely flavor any dessert recipe. It adds warmth and nostalgia to many desserts and is guaranteed to sweeten your day.

17 Maple Syrup Dessert Recipes

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