How to store sugar is a topic I've been asked about many times and has been discussed on many websites with varying instructions. Sugar is one of the easiest storage items to store — so let's talk about the truth about storing sugar.
Since there are several forms of sugar, all different in texture, color, and usage; I'll cover how to store sugar by the different types.
Whether sugar is good for us or not, is topic for another time, but for food storage purposes, it is an essential ingredient in many recipes and we all seem to love sweets, don't we? However, using it sparingly for treats in a time of stress or crisis, can be a comfort to children as well as adults — just because it can make difficult times "seem" more normal.
The basics are: most sugars will store indefinitely as long as they are stored in a cool, dark, dry area and kept free of bugs. It does not deteriorate, but it can get hard or clumpy. It is one of those wonderful storage items that you can buy in bulk or smaller containers, dump it into a food grade bucket and forget about it until needed.
There is only one precaution: Never use oxygen absorbers when storing any type of sugar — that includes honey (which will also last indefinitely). Strangely, oxygen absorbers, when put into a storage container with sugar, will cause the sugar to have a kind of chemical taste and turn the sugar to a solid brick.
White sugar - The best way to store it is in 6-gallon plastic buckets with or without a Mylar bag lining. You can also purchase it already hermetically sealed in #10 cans or 6 gallon buckets.
#10 Cans of Sugar
6 Gallon Buckets of Sugar
When you need to use the sugar, it may be clumped a bit. White sugar breaks up easily and clumps do not mean there's anything wrong with the sugar. It just means a little moisture was inside when it was sealed. I have heard that if you live in a humid climate, a little rice thrown into the sugar before storing will help absorb moisture and prevent clumping. I live in a very dry climate so have not tried using rice in sugar. Using a dessicant packet will also help. (A dessicant packet is not the same as an oxygen absorber; one absorbs oxygen and one absorbs moisture.)
Powdered sugar is just as easy to store as granulated white sugar. It will not clump as much (if at all) because it is a drier sugar to start with. As always, however, make sure to keep it dry and airtight.
I don't use as much powdered sugar as granulated sugar so I just store it in the packaging that it comes in from the grocery store. It can be put into 6 gallon buckets (in the original bags) or poured into #10 cans or canning bottles and sealed (without oxygen absorbers).
Brown sugar is a different story — only because it is moist and will dry into a solid block in long term storage depending on how it is stored.
Brown sugar in a #10 can from a preparedness store states it has a 20-year shelf life. How can they claim that when most claim it only lasts six months? Because the double-enameled #10 cans are hermetically sealed, it will keep its fresh flavor and remain isolated from harmful elements, chemicals, and pests. They do not state, however, that it will still be soft in 20 years.
If it is hard at any time that you open it, it can still be used, but it will need to be softened (see below).
Another suggestion would be to make your own brown sugar as needed. Brown sugar is just white granulated sugar with molasses added.
Try this recipe:
Blend it in a blender or food processor. The amount of molasses added determines whether it becomes light brown or dark brown sugar. You won't believe how much better it tastes than store bought!
Store in an airtight container for about 3 weeks.