Storing sugar

What is the best way to store sugar so that it doesn't get hard?

Admin Answer:
White sugar doesn't really get hard. It may become a little lumpy, but if it does, there may be a little moisture inside the container. (High humidity could be the cause.)

Brown sugar - there's no way to prevent it from getting hard. The only solution is to soften it when you need to use it. Check out this page, How to Store Sugar, for more helpful hints.

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Shelf Life of White Sugar & Salt
by: Mary Braun

Just wanted to keep plain white sugar in a large jar with lid didn't know how long it would last? Also salt?


Both will last indefinitely. They may become lumpy if any moisture is present, but it will not harm them and they will last forever. Never put oxygen absorbers in containers of sugar, though.

Storing sugar
by: Alex

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable information to work on. You've done a formidable job and our whole community will be thankful to you.


The salt question
by: Dale

Someone above asked about shelf-life of salt. That's a funny question. Salt is a mineral. It's billions of years old by the time you get it. I'm sure it will last a few more decades for your lifetime and then a few more millennia beyond that for your descendents.

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Storing Sugar in Mylar Bags

by Jeri
(Grand Rapids)

I was wondering how long cane sugar and brown sugar can be stored in Mylar bags then in a five gallon food storage bucket?


Both white and brown sugar can be stored indefinitely, as long as it is stored properly to keep out any bugs or rodents. Mylar bags and food storage buckets should meet that requirement just fine.

Check here for more information on storing sugar.

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Food storage, brown sugar.

by Sharon

How do I store brown sugar for long term food storage?

OK So I think I just had my first long term food storage blunder. I placed an order for a bunch of food intending to dry can it. I am a novice at this so it is a learning experience.

Contacted our local LDS and they loaned me a canner. (Very Nice People!) I get home, can up my oats, dry milk and pull out the brown sugar.

Hmmm, I wonder if I am supposed to can this? It is moist. I had not thought of this so I jump online to see if I can find an answer. Now I read that it is not a good idea to dry can brown sugar.

Uhm, I've got 50 pounds of it! So can you recommend what I should do with it? I'm leaning towards canning the brown sugar anyway and dealing with hardness when I open it up. But maybe you have a better idea.

Thanks for your food storage information.

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Long Term Storage for Brown Sugar
by: Joan

Hi Sharon,

I don't think your "blunder" is a total loss. Although brown sugar may harden over time, it will still be usable.

If I were you, I would try to store it in no larger than #10 cans (no O2 absorbers though). Smaller storage containers will make it easier to soften it as you need it for recipes.

There are several ways to soften brown sugar (which you probably already know) but here's a list I've compiled of helpful hints for softening immediately or over several days.

Thanks for your question, Sharon, and it's good to hear from you.

Storing Brown Sugar
by: angelfaily

I haven't stored any brown sugar yet, but I was thinking of trying the seal-n-vac method. Think that might work?

Storing Brown Sugar
by: Joan

Brown sugar should not be vacuum packed nor should oxygen absorbers be used. There is a chance that botulism could develop in moist brown sugar as it is anaerobic (meaning botulism is not killed when there is a lack of oxygen).

Brown sugar stored long term or even short term will not stay soft, but it can always be softened at the time you need to use it.

I can deal with hard brown sugar.
by: Sharon

Thanks Joan for your advice. I did go ahead and dry can the brown sugar. But on the advice of a friend who is experienced in dry canning I did not use oxygen absorbers. (I had not read your response yet) I guess I'll see what happens when I open it up!

If the only problem is that the sugar will be hard then I'm relieved! I just did not want the sugar to be unusable for some reason. Like you say hardness can be resolved.

Our approach...
by: Anonymous

Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses. Each stores well separately. When you want brown sugar, just mix up a small batch. Very easy. Works great.

Bad experience with storing brown sugar
by: Anonymous

Several years ago, I sealed brown sugar in a mylar pouch with an oxygen absorber. It stayed soft, but when I opened it, it smells very alcoholic! Also, there are lighter and darker areas. Maybe that's the reason not to include the oxygen absorber.


Since my answer earlier on this page, I have done some research and found that oxygen absorbers should not be used in any sugar for storage - not brown or white.

Thanks for sharing your experience of using them. It's good to hear first-hand information.

Powdered Sugar
by: Anonymous

Do you need an oxygen absorbers with powdered sugar? How long will it be good for?

No, you don't need oxygen absorbers in any kind of sugar. If kept in a properly sealed, cool, dry environment, it should keep indefinitely - just like granulated sugar.

dont use oxygen absorbers
by: Anonymous

I read on the LDS website that using oxygen absorbers with moist food (greater than 10 or 15% I can't remember) can cause botulism toxin.

Put brown sugar in the freezer
by: Anonymous

I keep my brown sugar in my freezer and when I need it, I microwave it for approx. 30 seconds, which softens it. I use it and then put it back in the freezer. It stays fresh in the freezer indefinitely.

Keeping Brown Sugar Soft
by: Anonymous

I just read a cool idea to keep brown sugar soft. The article mentioned a terracotta clay disk that can be purchased in kitchen shops or possibly your grocery store. It's about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Soak it in water for about 15 minutes, dry with a towel (so it's not dripping) and seal inside the container with brown sugar. Even if the brown sugar is rock hard, it will soften it.

Another method is to use a slice of apple or a piece of bread. Interestingly, neither the apple or the bread will become moldy - just dry as the sugar absorbs all the moisture out of them.

Storing brown sugar
by: Anonymous

Each time I open a bag, or box of brown sugar, I place it in a ziploc bag and squeeze as much air out of it as possible and place it back into the box. So far, it has NEVER gotten hard.

Storing brown sugar
by: Anonymous

Call it what you want but my mother always taught me to include a half slice of white bread in the container of brown sugar to keep it fresh. I have some brown sugar from at least 2 years and the slice of bread is hard but the sugar is very granular yet. Hope this helps.

Storing Brown Sugar
by: Karen

When I open a new bag of Brown Sugar, I put it in a ZipLoc bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and put in an empty, cleaned out, coffee can (or similar) and so far has NEVER been hard, no matter how long I store it.

Moisture Absorber or Rice
by: Rhona

I have 50 lbs of light brown granulated sugar, I was wondering if moisture absorber, homemade like rice in a pouch would work thus keeping it from hardening and of course it still has oxygen.

A regular oxygen absorber should never be used with any kind of sugar - gives it a kind of chemical taste after a while. But a rice pouch? I've never heard of using that. I don't know anything that will keep brown sugar soft over long term, but it's certain worth a try.

Let us know if it works!

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Storing granulated sugar

by Patricia Gilbert
(West Virginia)

Rather than using Mylar bags and moisture packs to store sugar, can I use a vacuum sealer to seal smaller bags-like 3 - 4 lbs each and then place in a plastic bucket with lid?


Absolutely! That's an excellent idea. Not only will it help keep moisture out of the sugar, but it makes it easier to use in 3-4 lb. packages.

Thanks, for the idea!


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Brown and White Sugar
by: Kathy y

We just cleaned our garage. Remember y2k?? Yes I put up 20 lbs each of brown sugar, white powered sugar, corn meal, and lots of different flours . 12 years later no problems. No smell, no mold, and the brown sugar is softer then what is in my refrigerator. We just tossed store bags into air tight 5 gal buckets. Also had to have gone thru freeze thaw 12 times - we are in Missouri.


Wow! Great to know how long these items lasted. Nothing better than a REAL test of time.

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Packaging Brown Sugar

Is it best to vacuum seal brown sugar before putting in mylar and a bucket with absorber?


This subject has been covered extensively in previous questions from readers. And, no, brown sugar should not be vacuum sealed nor stored with O2 absorbers.

Read these pages:

How to Store Sugar

Storing Sugar Long Term

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Storing in Heat
by: Jen

I live in the deep south and it gets really hot and humid. Everyone says store sugar (and everything else) in a cool, dry place. If we lose power there is no place that will be cool or dry. Any suggestions? How long would a #10 can last in heat.


Jen, when you live in a very warm and humid climate, you are definitely at a disadvantage. The unfortunate truth is that your food storage will not last as long as food stored in cooler areas. But it's still a good idea to have food stored.

The best you can do is keep it in the coolest place you can find, dark or shady, such as under beds or in closets.

There are, however, certain foods that will probably last forever regardless of the heat and humidity, such as sugar, rice, honey, pastas, as long as it is packaged to keep out bugs and sealed properly.

Your best bet with other foods is to store only what you can rotate in, say six months to one year. Having said that, I do think that dehydrated and freeze-dried foods will last much longer than that. Maybe not the full 25 years, but most likely 10-15.

We have some dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that have moved with us from Utah to Texas, then to Colorado and back to Utah, so they have been in the heat and back to cold. They were purchased in 1996 and are still good to eat. I have no idea of the nutritional value of those foods however. I am rotating them out now and replacing them with new.

Keep storing though - I seriously believe we will need it some day.

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