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Does Brown Sugar Expire? Surprising Facts

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Often old bags of brown sugar can be found tucked away…

…in a kitchen cupboard hidden from sight.

As you clean up the pantry or cupboard…

…you suddenly discover this half-open container of brown sugar…

…that you thought you finished a while ago. 

A wave of confusion then sweeps over you as you wonder…

…”Can brown sugar go bad?’

There’s no question that brown sugar lasts a long time.

One of the biggest questions is, “how long?”.

Hardened brown sugar doesn’t seem to be safe to consume…

…since it tends to clump up after a while…

…and it clumps after being stored for a while.

Therefore, if you’d like to know the answers to these questions…

…as well as much more about brown sugar, keep reading!

Hold on! First, let’s hear Claire’s story.

I had a bag of brown sugar hiding in my pantry that I hadn’t noticed,

and  I was going to use it for a cookie recipe today.

About a year has gone by since the brown sugar was there,

and it looks very tightly packed. I wonder if it is safe to use…

But then my friend told me that “being packed together is generally safe, just inconvenient.

Brown sugar does not expire,

but it does absorb excess water if kept in a humid environment causing it to ferment (Goop)

or pick up odors from its packaging or nearby items.”

Thus, i guess it is okay to use it

Now, let’s jump right in!

Does Brown Sugar Go Bad?

Brown sugar
credits: merchdope.com

Brown sugar has a significantly longer shelf life than other dessert ingredients.

Several years are required for safe storage.

Brown sugar is supposed to have a long shelf life if properly stored.

Brown sugar packages aren’t typically marked with an expiration date.

As a result, the common assumption is that it doesn’t go bad.

Brown sugar has an undisputed shelf life of eternity…

…because other factors are constant.

Keep in mind, however, that brown sugar can spoil…

…if it is not stored properly.

Therefore, how you store your produce determines how long it lasts.

Brown sugar can be stored for up to five years…

…in a suitable storage space that is safe for consumption.

In the end, you shouldn’t risk your health when it comes to food intake.

Purchase as much as you can consume in up to five years.

When brown sugar is stored excessively, it takes up more space…

…resulting in a multitude of other inconveniences in the scenario.

In order to be on the safe side…

…it’s best to estimate your monthly sugar requirements…

…and purchase a supply that will last for at least two years.

You might be wondering…

Health Benefits and Concerns of Brown Sugar

Brown sugar
credits: streetsmartkitcen.com

Brown sugar is a simple carbohydrate…

…that provides quick energy (glucose) to the body and brain.

Brains prefer glucose for energy.

However, excess calories and carbohydrates from sugar…

…and other sources are stored as fat. 

Sugar should be consumed in moderation, therefore.

In addition to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome…

…and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease…

…excessive sugar consumption is often blamed for increased rates of disease.

Despite this, some experts maintain…

…that when sugar is consumed at recommended levels…

…it does not increase the risk of disease.

According to the 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans

…sugar consumption should not exceed 10% of total calories each day.

It should be noted that everyone’s needs are different…

…so the recommended levels are not exact.

Find out what works best for your body based on the recommended amounts.

“Americans 2 years and older keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories. For example, in a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars (about 12 teaspoons). Children younger than 2 years should not be fed foods and beverages with added sugars at all.”

The 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Here’s the best part..

Advice on Storing Brown Sugar

When stored properly, brown sugar can last for many years.

It’s normally stored in a pantry…

…but the location may not be ideal for brown sugar storage.

Here are some tips on how to properly store it, so it doesn’t go bad.

Storage Space Should be Cool and Dry

Brown sugar needs to be stored in a temperature-controlled environment.

You must remember that high temperatures ruin the texture of brown sugar.

This doesn’t necessarily make brown sugar unfit for consumption…

…but it is extremely unsightly.

Cool does not mean you should store sugar in your mini-fridge…

…or counter-depth refrigerator.

The cold temperature of a fridge, combined with moisture…

…will significantly harden sugar.

Brown sugar is commonly stored in cupboards, pantries…

…or just convenient places in the kitchen.

If you store sugar in your kitchen…

…make sure it doesn’t get too close to your induction range or oven…

…which can distort its texture.

Also, do not let sugar come into contact with water.

As a good moisture absorber, sugar forms bonds, creating large clusters.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the sugar is bad…

…but rather that mixing it properly becomes more difficult.

Keep reading…

Use Sealed Bags or Enclosed Containers

Brown sugar
credits: thedaringkitchen.com

It is ideal not to open the brown sugar packaging upon purchase.

The sugar needs to be poured into an airtight container…

…or sealed bag, if you’ve already opened the package.

The sugar will harden if there is trapped air in the container…

…as it can absorb immense moisture from the air.

 Due to its sweet nature, this dried fruit is typically contaminated…

…with a variety of bugs, such as moths, ants, and flies.

Brown sugar usually goes bad due to contamination by these creatures.

Therefore, keeping it in an airtight container…

…or plastic bag can make all the difference in keeping it protected for years to come.

Hardened Brown Sugar Does Not Mean It Is Bad

Brown sugar
credits: thedaringkitchen.com

Despite your best efforts to store brown sugar in a cool…

…and dry place, it may eventually become hard.

It is important to remember that brown sugar has not gone bad if this happens.

It isn’t easy to mix it in this state, but it isn’t harmful for consumption.

The hard brown sugar should be used as follows.


Take Out the Sugar Beforehand

Before using brown sugar that has been stored for a long time…

…we recommend taking it out first.

The reason for this is that when you store sugar for an extended period…

…there is a much greater chance of it hardening.

Instead of large quantities of sugar, you only need a spoonful with regular meals.

Once the sugar hardens, it can be difficult to take small amounts.

It’s important to remove the sugar a few hours before consumption…

…so that you can apply some remedy to restore the sugar to its original form.

Use a Fork or Electric Mixer 

If you use a fork or electric mixer

…you can crush the hardened sugar into small pieces…

…that can easily be mixed with water.

This scenario also allows you to use an electric mixer.

When you need to use the sugar right away…

…the mixer is your Holy Grail for softening brown sugar.

Smash with a Bag

Even though this might seem eccentric, smashing a bag gets the job done.

Put the sugar lumps in a jute bag…

…and smash them against a wall or hard counter.

It is recommended to take in small amounts of sugar lumps;

…otherwise, applying pressure or lifting can be difficult.

Additionally, you should avoid using excessive force…

…when smashing to avoid damaging the kitchen counter or wall.

Use an Apple Wedge

The method is indisputable one of the most convenient ways…

…to deal with hard brown sugar.

Place the sugar on an apple wedge inside the sugar container a few hours…

…before you intend to use it, as we discussed earlier.

A couple of hours later, the lumps will be broken into smaller pieces.

It saves you the trouble of breaking up the large sugar lumps.

Microwave for a Couple of Minutes


You can easily break up hard brown sugar…

…by microwaving it for a couple of minutes with a damp paper towel.

The warm sugar shouldn’t be stored for too long, however.

Store it for no more than 2 weeks or use it in a recipe.

Moisten a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag to soften brown sugar.

Microwave it for approximately twenty seconds.

If you do not want to use a plastic container or bag…

…you can also use a glass container or microwave-safe bowl…

…with a moist paper towel before microwaving.

At What Point Should You be Concerned?

Brown sugar
credits: merchdope.com

So far, we have discussed the benefits of brown sugar…

…such as its high longevity and immortality under normal conditions.

The irresistible sweetness, however, increases the likelihood…

…that it will get contaminated with bugs.

Ants and other bugs can’t resist the sweetness just like us.

As a result, bug contamination is most likely to occur…

…especially when sugar is not stored in an insulated container.

In the event that you find bugs in the sugar…

…you should discard it rather than consume it.

This doesn’t mean the sugar has been ruined…

…but the bugs may carry infections and germs.

To avoid resigning yourself to this fate…

…we recommend storing the sugar in airtight containers.

Looking for brown sugar substitute?

Sum Up!

In the form of granulated sugar, brown sugar absorbs large amounts of liquid.

The porous nature of this material makes it an excellent absorbent of moisture.

The biggest reason why it goes bad is when it is exposed to humidity…

…heat, and moisture for an extended period of time.

It causes mold and mildew to accumulate…

…as well as causing it to harden and lumpy if it stays wet for a long time.

Moisture can also cause changes in color and flavor.

Also, you may notice that the surface of the sugar gets whitish.


You don’t need to worry next time you find out there is brown sugar…

…in your pantry that has been stored for years.

However, it is easily hardened into lumps even if it does not go bad.

Did you learn anything from this guide you’d like to share?

Feel free to leave a comment. It would be great to hear from you!

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