How to Soften Sugar

How to Soften Sugar (White & Brown): 11 Easy Ways

Hardened sugar can be softened by using a microwave, an oven, bread, an apple slice, terracotta, a food processor, a paper towel, marshmallows, and a coffee grinder.

This article will explain why sugar hardens, and how to prevent this from happening.

How to Soften Sugar (11 Methods)

Spoonful of sugar and sugar blocks

There are many easy ways to soften sugar using tools and ingredients that you should have in your home.

Method 1: The Microwave Method

The easiest way to soften sugar is to use the microwave. This method requires:

  • A microwave
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • A paper towel

To soften sugar in the microwave, follow these steps:

  1. Put the hard sugar in a microwave-safe bowl
  2. Wet a paper towel, then squeeze out the excess water
  3. Place the towel over the bowl, covering the sugar
  4. Microwave the sugar in 10-second increments, checking the consistency of the sugar each time, until the sugar is softened
  5. Remove the sugar as soon as it is soft and easy to separate with a fork. Microwaving sugar for too long can cause the sugar to melt
  6. Allow the sugar to cool slightly before handling it or using it in recipes. The sugar will harden again once it has completely cooled, so only microwave what you need

You can use the microwave method to soften white and brown sugar. If the brown sugar has gone bad, you may need to heat it longer.

Method 2: The Oven Method

Softening sugar in the oven takes longer than using the microwave, but this method is still effective. To soften sugar in the oven, you’ll need:

  • An oven
  • An oven-safe bowl

Follow these instructions to soften sugar using an oven:

  1. Heat the oven to 250°F
  2. Add the hard sugar to the oven-safe bowl and place the bowl in the oven
  3. After 2 minutes, remove the bowl using oven gloves and check the consistency of the sugar with a fork
  4. If the sugar is still too hard, return the bowl to the oven for another 2 minutes
  5. Allow the soft sugar to cool slightly before using

The oven method is effective in softening white and brown sugar.

Method 3: The Apple Slice Method

Apples soften sugar by providing moisture for the sugar to absorb. This method requires:

  • An airtight container
  • An apple slice

To soften sugar with an apple slice, here’s what to do:

  1. Cut a slice from a fresh apple and place it into the airtight container
  2. Place the hard sugar in the container, making sure the sugar and the apple don’t touch
  3. Close the container’s lid and leave at room temperature for up to 24 hours. During this time, the sugar should soften
  4. Remove and discard the apple slice and use the sugar immediately

You can use an apple slice to soften white and brown sugar.

Method 4: The Bread Method

The bread method works exactly the same as the apple slice method. Here’s what you need:

To soften sugar with bread, follow these steps:

  1. Place the bread inside the airtight container and add the hard sugar
  2. Close the lid of the container and leave at room temperature for up to 24 hours
  3. Remove the bread when the sugar has softened

You can use the bread method to soften white and brown sugar.

Method 5: The Terracotta Method

If you have a clean piece of terracotta in your home, this material can be used to soften sugar in a process that’s slightly more complicated than other methods.

You’ll need the following items:

  • A clean piece of terracotta
  • A cup of water
  • An airtight container

To soften sugar using terracotta, follow these steps:

  1. Soak the terracotta piece in a cup of water for up to 20 minutes
  2. Remove the terracotta piece from the water
  3. Place the sugar in an airtight container and add the terracotta piece
  4. Seal the container and leave for up to 24 hours for the sugar to soften

The terracotta method can be used to soften brown sugar. If you don’t have a piece of terracotta at home, you can buy terracotta sugar savers online.

Method 6: The Food Processor Method

Food processors are ideal for mincing and chopping solid food into pieces. Although food processors don’t technically soften sugar, the chopping, mincing action breaks down hard sugar clumps and gives sugar the right consistency.

The food processor method requires a single item:

  • A food processor

Here’s how to make sugar soft and powdery in a food processor:

  1. Add enough sugar to the food processor to fill 50% of the machine’s capacity
  2. Use the pulse function to blitz the hard sugar cubes into fine granules
  3. Stop as soon as the sugar has achieved a fine consistency

Food processors aren’t ideal for rock-solid sugar pieces. It’s easier to use a food processor for softening white sugar than for brown sugar.

Method 7: The Coffee Grinder Method

The sharp blades inside a coffee grinder are perfect for cutting up hard sugar cubes until the sugar becomes coarsely ground.

To soften sugar using this method, you’ll need:

  • A coffee grinder

Here’s what to do:

  1. Pour the sugar into the coffee grinder, as you would pour in coffee beans
  2. Don’t overload the machine. Stop when the sugar reaches full capacity. You can work in batches if needed
  3. Switch on the coffee grinder and watch the sugar. When the desired consistency has been achieved, remove the sugar
  4. Switch off the machine before the sugar becomes too powdery

You can use a coffee grinder to soften white and brown sugar.

Method 8: The Pestle Method

Using a pestle to soften sugar requires more manual work than any of the other methods, but this option is still effective.

The pestle method requires the following items:

  • A large bowl
  • A pestle
  • A dishcloth
  • A sprinkle of water

Follow these steps to soften sugar with the pestle method:

  1. Pour the hard sugar into a large bowl
  2. Pour a sprinkle of water onto the sugar
  3. Cover the surface of the sugar with a dishcloth to prevent the sugar from flying out of the bowl
  4. Press the pestle against the sugar cubes, pushing downward until the cubes crumble
  5. Continue until there are no more hard cubes of sugar

Method 9: The Steamer Method

How to Soften Sugar

Steaming hard sugar has a similar effect to microwaving sugar. The heat from the steam softens hard sugar cubes and gives the sugar an even texture.

To soften sugar using the steamer method, you’ll need:

  • A small heatproof bowl
  • A medium-sized pot

Follow these steps:

  1. Pour the hard sugar into the bowl
  2. Fill a medium-sized pot one-third of the way full with water and place on high heat
  3. Place the sugar bowl inside the pot, making sure the water in the pot doesn’t spill over into the sugar bowl
  4. Cover the pot with a lid, allowing the steam from the boiling water to soften the sugar
  5. Allow the water to boil for 5 minutes. Check on the sugar and return the lid if the sugar isn’t soft enough. Add more water to the pot if necessary
  6. When the sugar is easy to break down with a spoon, remove the pot from the heat and use the sugar instantly

The steamer method can be used for softening white and brown sugar.

Method 9: The Wet Paper Towel Method

One of the cheapest and easiest methods for softening sugar is the wet paper towel method.

The equipment required for this method is:

  • A paper towel
  • A glass jar

To soften sugar with the wet paper towel method, here’s what to do:

  1. Pour the hard sugar into a glass jar
  2. Spray some water onto a paper towel. The paper towel should be damp, but not dripping wet
  3. Place the paper towel over the sugar in the glass jar and screw the lid in place
  4. Leave the jar overnight. The moisture from the paper towel should soften the sugar
  5. In the morning, remove the paper towel from the jar and use a spoon to break apart the sugar

The wet paper towel method is more effective for white sugar, which doesn’t become as rock-solid as brown sugar.

Method 10: The Marshmallow Method

Marshmallows work in a similar way to bread and apple slices, softening sugar with moisture.

For the marshmallow method, you need:

  • One or two large marshmallows
  • An airtight container

Follow these steps:

  1. Place the sugar in an airtight container
  2. Add one or two marshmallows to the container and shut the lid
  3. Leave the container for up to 24 hours
  4. Use a spoon or a knife to break up the sugar clumps

You can soften white sugar and brown sugar with the marshmallow method.

Method 11: The Dropping Method

A quick, last-resort method that can work effectively to break up hard sugar is the dropping method. The force of dropping the sugar on the floor causes the cubes to break apart.

You will need:

  • A solid, sturdy container with a tight lid (something that won’t pop open when dropped)

Follow these steps:

  1. Pour the sugar into a sturdy container
  2. Drop the container onto the floor
  3. Check to see if the hard sugar cubes have broken up
  4. After two or three drops, the sugar should have a finer consistency than before

The dropping method is best for white sugar, which is easier to break up than brown sugar.

Why Does Sugar Become Hard?

Brown sugar hardens when it is exposed to air, which causes the sugar’s molasses content to evaporate. Moisture can also cause brown and white sugar to become hard. Even if you don’t add water to your sugar, the moisture from the air can get into sugar, causing hardness.

Brown sugar is more susceptible to hardening than white sugar because brown sugar is coated with molasses. The molasses gives brown sugar a softer texture than white sugar, but when the molasses evaporates, the sugar granules harden into solid lumps.

How Do You Keep Sugar from Hardening?

The best way to prevent sugar from hardening is to store the sugar at room temperature in an airtight container, away from water. A jar or container with a tight lid and a resealable, moisture-proof plastic bag are two good storage options for white and brown sugar.

Place the container or bag away from areas of the kitchen that become warm or moist, such as the area around the oven. Don’t store the sugar in the refrigerator because the temperature and moisture changes can cause the sugar to harden.

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