Even though we stored our brown sugar in a supposedly airtight glass canister, it invariably became rock-hard in a few weeks, its natural high level of moisture evaporating into…well, who knows where it went?
The old “Hints From Heloise” on how to soften brown sugar don’t work if you’re in a hurry. They include putting slices of apple or a slice of fresh bread into the airtight container. In a day or so, the moisture from the apple or bread will infuse into the sugar and soften it.
But if you discover, as you’re making a recipe, that your brown sugar is one big hard lump, you need a fast solution.
This simple gadget keeps brown sugar soft. Photo courtesy Improvements.
Our friend Rose offered the solution: Place the brown sugar in a plastic bag (or in a microwavable container) with moist paper towel and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Voilà, soft brown sugar.
We subsequently came across these Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Disks. Soak a disk in water for 15 minutes, then add it to the container of brown sugar. The terra cotta (which is porous, unglazed baked clay) holds moisture, and releases it slowly to keep brown sugar or other foods moist for weeks.
You can pick up a set of Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Disks ($8.99 for three) and give the other two to friends.
Should you happen to have a small piece of terra cotta hanging around, you can try it first. We used a shard from a broken flower pot, wrapping it in cheesecloth to ensure that none of the broken surface would come into contact with the sugar.
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