Softening hardened brown sugar
Posted: 12 January 2010 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Does microwaving brown sugar varieties that have hardened with a splash of water cause any significant change that would affect recipe measurements?

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Posted: 12 January 2010 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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To best way to soften hard brown sugar is to put it in a bowl and cover it with a wet towel. The moisture from the towel will soften the sugar. I’ve never microwaved it. This is the way I always do it.

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Posted: 12 January 2010 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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How far in advance to soften it? I used some really hard muscovado on Sunday, and some of it never dissolved in the batter. Thanks.

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Posted: 12 January 2010 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I use those brown sugar bears that you moisten with water, and I find they work well. I know Rose says that a slice of apple works well too.

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Posted: 12 January 2010 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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knit1bake1 - 12 January 2010 06:36 PM

How far in advance to soften it? I used some really hard muscovado on Sunday, and some of it never dissolved in the batter. Thanks.

I usually try softening a few hours in advance but the last time I used muscovado (a week and a half ago) I forgot to do this. So I softened the sugar before I did the rest of my ingredient prep. After about 1/2 hour enough of the sugar had softened for me to use. I simply crumbled off the soften parts with a fork or spoon and scooped out the amount I needed (aboput 1/2 cup). Then I softened the rest, which took about an hour. I put in in airtight ziplock. It is still soft and moist today. Mind you, I use a wet towel. Not dripping wet, but definitely soaked with water. I find this doesn’t over saturate the sugar.

I find that the muscovado that doesn’t completely dissovle has more to do with breaking the sugar lumps up adequately. The moist muscovado and brown sugars tend to lump together. I always mix the dry ingredients for several minutes in the mixer when using muscovado or brown sugar to ensure that all the lumps are broken up. I’ll even give it a run through with clean hands. However, if there are pieces that show up in the cake, I don’t mind, its just sweet yummy goodness.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve found the best way to avoid hardened brown sugar is to store it in an airtight container, but that advice doesn’t help once you have a lump of hardened sugar on your hands.  I think the microwave works best to soften slightly hardened brown sugar, but it doesn’t work as well for really dry, really hard sugar.  For the latter, I top the sugar with a damp paper towel that is placed on a piece of plastic wrap (so it doesn’t touch the brown sugar directly), then seal everything airtight and the sugar is back to normal by the following day.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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What a good tip, Patricia!  I keep a little terra-cotta disc in my jar which seems to do the trick but it is always handy to know of other tricks for these dilemmas, isn’t it?

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Posted: 13 January 2010 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I have used all of the above methods…and they all work.  HERE IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NOT DO:.  I don’t have a microwave…tiny kitchen…blah blah blah….tired of complaining about it.  I needed the Brown sugar fast fast fast…now now…needed it now.  And well…no time to wait for that little terra cotta bear to do his thing.  So I put a lump of hard brown sugar in my Kitchen Aid food processor to break it up.  IT BROKE THE BLADE, WHICH JUMPED AROUND THE BOWL AND SCRATCHED UP THE ENTIRE INSIDE OF THE BOWL.  Do not try this at home!  (Or anywhere for that matter)

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Patrincia - 13 January 2010 04:30 AM

I?ve found the best way to avoid hardened brown sugar is to store it in an airtight container.

Yes, I transfer all my perishables to those glass jars with the rubber gasket and clamping lid.  The brown sugar never dries out.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If you use muscovado sugar regularly at all, you’ll have noticed that sometimes is comes rock hard. Even the good kind (India Tree) can come this way. There is nothing wrong with the sugar, but it can lose moisture in the shipping and storage on the market shelves. As long as the expiration date hasn’t passed, the best thing is to soften the sugar as soon as you get it, and place it in a air tight container (like Charles does). It should stay moist from then on out. Then it is always ready for your use.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Bill, thanks so much for the food processor warning- that sounds like something I would do!

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Posted: 18 May 2011 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I wish I’d read this an hour ago. Fed up with breaking my fingers massaging hard lumps from my muscovado sugar every couple of weeks, I decided to melt the sugar in with the milk and Guinness that the recipe asks for. The cake mix was naturally sloppier than normal but I imagined that I had just speeded up the process that the oven would do. Mistake! it has flowed all over the oven floor. Its still baking and I’m hoping after its calmed down I’ll still have something edible - but I have my doubts? Why did it do this??? chemistry…..

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