White sugar, which can come in the form of granulated sugar (caster sugar) is a staple in every home. We use it in our coffee, tea, other types of drinks, and even dishes. If you’re into baking, then you surely need sugar (granulated or powdered sugar) in making your pastries and baked goodies, too.
To use white sugar as an ingredient, it should be in granules or powdery form, right? If not, you really can’t use it properly. So, should you find that your white sugar is hard and compact, you should do something (right away) to bring it back to its original form.
Fortunately, there are many different ways on how to un clump white sugar – and I will show you 10 methods on how to soften white sugar right in this article. No, don’t throw your hardened white sugar away (at least, not yet) – not until you finish reading this post.
Why Sugar Gets Hard
While this post is dedicated to teaching you how to soften white sugar that has hardened up, preventing it from happening can still be our best solution. First, let’s try to understand the reason why sugar hardens up and how to keep it soft.
White sugar, in particular, is dry to the touch, right? To maintain its current state (in granules or powder form), it needs to be kept in an air-tight container to keep the moisture out
How To Store Sugar Via AlaskaGranny
You see, air contains moisture – and when sugar is exposed to air, it also absorbs the moisture content therein. This situation will then cause the sugar to harden up and become one piece of solid sugar.
10 Methods to Softening White Sugar
Method 1 – Manual Pounding
Sugar is not as hard as stone – therefore, you can pound on it to break it into pieces. You can use these tools for this task:
Meat tenderizer (the flat surface)
The goal is to pulverize the hardened sugar to bring it back to its original form.
Method 2 – Dropping on the Floor
It’s a common practice to drop ice on the floor if you want to break it up into pieces, right? Well, you can actually do the same to a pack of sugar that has hardened up. Just make sure that the container is sealed tight and that it won’t break apart when it hit the floor. Otherwise, it could get very VERY messy.
Method 3 – Using a Food Processor, Blender or Coffee Grinder
If you have a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder, you can use these devices to bring hard sugar back to its original form. Just follow the steps below.
Break the sugar into chunks (the smaller, the better) by dropping it on the floor or by pounding on it.
Place the broken pieces of clumped up sugar in the blender, food processor, or coffee grinder.
Hit pulse and continue processing and blending and grinding until you get your desired texture.
Transfer the crushed sugar in an airtight container
Method 4 – Using the Microwave to Soften Hard White Sugar
Cold air, humid air, and moisture probably caused your sugar to harden up. To reverse the process (somehow) you can use the microwave to soften it up. Here are the steps needed for this method:
Expose hardened sugar to high heat (in the microwave) for a few seconds.
When warmed up, the sugar will be softer and easier to break. Allow it to cool down before touching it.
Mash the sugar with a fork to crush it back to its original form or manually crumble it with your hands.
Method 5 – Using the Oven
To soften and break up sugar in the oven, follow these steps:
Place the hardened sugar in a baking dish.
Using low temperature-setting (150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit), heat up the oven and allow the sugar to cook for about 10 minutes.
Turn the oven off and allow the sugar to cool off for about 30 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and crush the sugar with a spoon or fork.
Method 6 – Heating on the Stove
To expose hardened sugar to heat using your stove, do the following steps:
Position an empty pan inside a pan of water
Place the hardened sugar into the empty pan and bring the water to a boil.
Once heated up (about 5 to 10 minutes), turn off the stove and allow the sugar to cool down.
Crush and crumble the sugar back to its original form.
Method 7 – Placing Pieces of Fresh Bread Inside the Sugar Container
If you want to save your hardened sugar and are not in a rush, you can use the time-tested method of putting pieces of bread in the sugar container. Here’s how it works:
Place a few pieces of fresh bread in the sugar container.
Seal this up and allow the bread to regulate the moisture content inside the container.
Wait for the sugar to soften up (this can take a few days, depending on how hard the sugar is)
Break up the sugar with a fork or spoon and replace the bread, if necessary (don’t keep stale bread inside the sugar container)
Method 8 – Placing a Damp Cloth Over the Sugar Container
The damp cloth technique is very similar in concept to the bread technique. To use this method on softening up hardened sugar, do the steps listed below.
Remove the lid from the sugar container.
Moisten a piece of cloth (not dripping) and place it on top of the container’s opening
Wait for the sugar to soften up, and keep replacing the damp cloth until it does.
When the sugar is soft enough to be broken, use a fork or a spoon to crush it back to its original form.
Method 9 – Using a Moist Paper Towel
The paper towel method is also very similar to the bread method. Follow these steps:
Moisten a paper towel (it should be damp, not wet) and place it in the sugar container.
Wait for the sugar to soften up
If the sugar remains hard and the paper towel is already dried up, replace this with a new moistened paper towel.
If the sugar is already softening up, break this back into its original form (use a spoon or fork)
Method 10 – Placing a Slice of Apple Inside the Sugar Container
Again, this method is very similar in concept to the bread technique as a slice of apple also carries some moisture. The steps to using this technique are listed below.
Cut a slice of apple (about 1/8)
Place the piece of apple inside the sugar container.
If the sugar is not that hard, it can soften up overnight. However, if it’s really hard, it may require a few more days.
Replace the slice of apple every day until the sugar is soft enough to crush
Use a spoon or fork to break down the sugar and crush it down to its original form.
Tips on How to Keep White Sugar from Hardening
Remember these tips if you want to avoid dealing with hard sugar:
- To keep sugar from hardening up, always keep this condiment in an air tight container
- Don’t put sugar in the refrigerator as this exposes it to a lot of moisture when there are frequent temperature changes (such as when you take it out of the fridge and when you put it back)
- You can use the bread method even if the sugar hasn’t hardened up yet. This technique helps in preventing sugar from clumping up. Just make sure that the bread is always fresh (not stale and moldy)
- When storing sugar that has been crushed from a hard state, sift it (flour sifter works fine) to remove the lumps. It’s the best way to get lumps out of white sugar
- If you find the methods I listed above to be too troublesome, you can always throw away hardened sugar and simply buy a new pack.
Important Things to Remember
Since we are on the topic of sugar, let me share with you some information that you will surely find useful (if you don’t know them yet, that is). Think about these things when you’re dealing with sugar:
- Sugar has a very long shelf life and will stay edible (and safe to eat) for many many years. Therefore, should your stock of sugar harden up, don’t worry about its quality. If you can bring it back to its original form, it will be good as new.
- Since sugar is a type of preservative, it will remain free from bacteria even when kept in the cupboard. There’s no need for you to refrigerate it to keep it fresh and bacteria-free.
- If (and when) sugar has become hopelessly hard and you really don’t want to go through all the trouble of softening and crushing it up (such as when sugar has hardened inside a canister) – you can always melt it instead. When you add water to hard sugar, it will soften up and melt and become a liquid form of sweetener.
There’s Always a Solution to Hard Sugar
As you can see, you have a lot of options when dealing with sugar that has hardened up (and is no longer usable). It is up to you whether you want to do the methods and techniques I showed you above or if you simply want to throw it away and buy a new pack.
And of course, you also have the option of turning hard sugar into a liquid sweetener (if all else fails). After all, sugar is still food – and we don’t want to waste food, right?
It really depends on the situation – that’s all I can really say about it. Although sugar is cheap and can be easily replaced, it’s still not advisable to waste it. However, if you think using your food processor (or blender or coffee grinder) on hard clumps of sugar can break these devices (which are more expensive than sugar) – then, it’s really not worth it.
I would suggest taking all the necessary steps to preserving sugar in its original form (proper storage is important). This way, you will never have to deal with the problem of how to soften white sugar.