Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
What Is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is a type of sugar made by adding molasses to refined white sugar crystals. The rich, sweet flavor of molasses gives it its characteristic color and taste. Most people enjoy the taste of brown sugar and the rich sweetness it adds to desserts and other sweet recipes.
This type of sugar is popular for baking because of its flavor and moisture, which it adds to baked goods. It contains modestly more vitamins and minerals than white, processed sugar, but it’s not substantially healthier and contributes to the same health problems that white sugar does: tooth decay and weight gain.
Can You Freeze Brown Sugar?
If you buy a big bag of brown sugar when it’s on sale and you know you won’t use it quickly, you might wonder whether you can freeze it. The answer is yes. You can freeze this type of sugar to prolong its shelf life, but there are some things to consider before popping it in the freezer.
Brown sugar is easier to freeze than white sugar. Because it contains more moisture than white sugar, it doesn’t crystallize as quickly or easily as white sugar when you refrigerate or freeze it. Therefore, it’s more amenable to freezing.
Freezing Is Better Than Refrigerating
Although brown sugar has a long shelf life, it can lose its flavor if exposed to air and light. Keeping it in an airtight container helps preserve its flavor and texture, but freezing it does this better.
According to the sugar manufacturer Domino Sugar, you shouldn’t store brown sugar in the refrigerator but should freeze it instead. Freezing is the best approach to prolonging its shelf life and taste.
Freezing Prevents Hard Lumps
Have you noticed how brown sugar can harden after you’ve had it for a while? Exposure to air dries out the sugar granules and gives it a firm texture.
Freezing prevents this problem by trapping moisture within the sugar granules, so they don’t lose moisture and become too hard and difficult to work with.
You may have been forced to throw out a bag of sugar in the past because it hardened too much. Freezing brown sugar helps avoid that fate.
How to Freeze Sugar
The best way to freeze brown sugar is in an airtight container or bag. Freezing can cause moisture loss, so wrap the container well and tightly seal it before placing it in the freezer.
Once you've wrapped it and placed it in the freezer, don't open the container until you're ready to use it. Leaving the container undisturbed will prevent condensation from forming on top of the sugar, which could cause it to clump.
Be sure to label the container with the name of the item and the date you placed it in the freezer, so you know how long it’s been frozen.
You can keep brown sugar in the freezer for up to a year without losing quality. From a safety perspective, you can store it longer, but you risk losing quality the longer it stays in the freezer.
How to Thaw Brown Sugar
To thaw frozen brown sugar, place it in the refrigerator overnight with plastic wrap on top to allow it to thaw. The plastic wrap will prevent moisture from the refrigerator from affecting the sugar. When you leave it on the counter at room temperature, it will take several hours to thaw enough to be usable.
If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave frozen brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl at five-second intervals on high power until soft enough to use in your recipe. This isn’t the best approach since microwaves heat food unevenly, but it works in a bind. You can use the sugar as soon as it has softened enough to cut into pieces with a knife or fork.
Freezing brown sugar in an airtight container is possible and safe to do, and it’s a better alternative than keeping it in the refrigerator. Doing so is a way to keep the texture and flavor from degrading too fast.
- "Baking & Product FAQs | Domino Sugar." https://www.dominosugar.com/baking-tips-how-tos/baking-product-faqs.
- "Freezing and Food Safety | Food Safety and Inspection Service." 15 Jun. 2013, https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.