Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a sucrose substance that is known for its deep sweetness and brown appearance. It has many uses in the kitchen and is great for adding flavor in baked goods and sauces in both sweet and savory dishes.

measuring spoon of brown sugar with cinnamon sticks

This category of sugar can be a bit confusing so let’s break it down. There are two types of brown sugar: refined and unrefined.

The unrefined type has less done to it meaning some molasses is left from the original refining process. This could be labeled as unrefined or partially refined. Other names include natural, turbinado, demerara or muscovado.

These are generally not moisture or less moist than their refined brethren. They often have larger crystals as well.

When a recipe calls for brown sugar, nine times out of ten, they are referring to the brown sugar that falls into the refined category.

They start with the end product, white granulated sugar, and add molasses back into the sugar to create that gorgeous, almost wet sand-like texture. This moisture is from molasses and gives your recipes moisture and also a chewiness when it comes to baking.

The refined variety is sold in two main types: you can purchase light brown sugar or dark brown sugar. The difference between the two lies in the amount of molasses in the sugar.

As you can imagine, this affects the flavor of the sugar. Light gives you a, well, lighter, caramel note whereas dark, gives you an earthy, dark, almost toffee-like flavor.

The two are interchangeable in any recipe that calls simply for “brown sugar.” If they want one of the unrefined varieties mentioned above, they will specify it.

Here are some delicious recipes using brown sugar:

What is the best way to store my brown sugar?

If you are opening a package and aren’t using it all up the same day, it needs to be stored in an airtight container. This helps keep the moisture in that container and in turn, in your sugar.

It’s even better when you can include a small terra cotta disk that has been soaked in water. There are also theories that suggest keeping a few marshmallows or a slice of bread in there.

All three will help to keep things as moist as humanly possible so you aren’t having to waste.

Why does brown sugar get rock hard?

Whether your sugar is light or dark it is full of moisture. When that moisture evaporates, you end up with sugar rock. It’s never fun so take care to put it in an airtight container. 

How do I soften brown sugar that has dried out?

When you are in a pinch, place the sugar in a ceramic dish with damp a paper towel. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Pop this into the microwave and heat it in 20-second bursts until it is back to the wet-sand consistency.

Can I make my own brown sugar at home?

Fun fact, most often it is made by taking white sugar and adding molasses back into it anyway, so yes, you can! The general rule of thumb is 1 cup of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses. Stir with a spoon until uniformly mixed.

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