How To Tell If Brown Sugar Is Bad

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Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if brown sugar has gone off or just needs a mix or heating up. So how do you tell if brown sugar is bad?

You can tell brown sugar is bad when the signs of spoilage appear, such as the expiration date has passed, bugs, mold, or a bad smell. Even though sugar can last indefinitely, these bad signs mean that it is time to throw it out.

In this article, I’ll explain why your brown sugar is bad and how you can tell if it needs to be replaced or not.

How To Know If Brown Sugar Is Bad

The Expiration Date Has Past

The good news is that if the date on your light brown or dark brown sugar has passed, it may still be good to use.

As I explained in my shelf life of sugar guide, sugar can technically last forever if stored in ideal conditions.

The problem is that our kitchens and pantries are not always kept cool and dry if they are close to our cooking areas. And sometimes accidents happen when we’re in a rush trying to prepare dinner.

If you decide to use it, even though the date on the label has passed, it’s always best to check for other signs of spoilage before using it.

There Are Bugs

If bugs or insects have taken residence in your brown sugar, it’s time to toss it.

You may see weevils, mites, and ants in your sugar, but in my experience, ants were the biggest culprits. Sugar is an energy-dense food that is easy for them to carry back to their nests and let the rest of them know where to find it.

Don’t use sugar that has bugs in it. It’s also a good idea to find out where they are coming from and put a stop to it. It’s your kitchen, not theirs!

It Smells Bad

Brown sugar has a strong sweet, caramel smell, making it a little more challenging to determine if it has taken up another smell. Despite being a dry ingredient that is quite hostile to life, it can take up other odors if stored in your fridge or in your pantry.

You might be guilty simply placing an elastic band or twist tie on your brown sugar to close it, but this will certainly lead to a bunch of problems, like a bad smell.

If your sugar smells bad, it’s probably best to throw it out.

It Is Hard

While hard brown sugar is not always bad, it can indicate that it has been around too long or stored improperly.

Brown sugar tends to turn into a solid brick within hours of exposure to air, while white sugar may take a little more time before it becomes clumpy.

The longer it stays in this state, the less desirable it will be to use in your recipes. Dry, hard brown sugar will start to lose its flavor and sweetness over time.

You can soften sugar in various ways, but you should ensure it is safe to consume by checking for the other signs of spoilage mentioned.

There Is Mold

Molds have a very difficult time growing in sugar because it dehydrates everything, similar to salt. However, they can thrive on top of your sugar with the right amount of moisture.

Brown sugar is higher in moisture than white sugar, so keeping it stored in an airtight container is best.

You should never use sugar or other food ingredients showing signs of mold. It can make you or whoever is consuming it very sick.

Bad Brown Sugar FAQs

Does Brown Sugar Mold?

Yes, brown sugar can mold if it is not stored properly. To prevent mold from growing on your brown sugar, make sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

If Brown Sugar Is Hard Is It Bad?

No, brown sugar that is hard is not always bad. It may mean that it has crystalized and needs to be heated to be softened.

Can You Use Expired Brown Sugar?

In most cases, you can use expired brown sugar as long as there are no signs of spoilage, but it may not be as tasty as fresh brown sugar.

Written By Justin Micheal

Justin is not just the creator but also an author and editor for KitchenSanity. He does the majority of the cooking at home with his wife. His friends and family look forward to eating his delicious creations, which often leads to many questions about how they can replicate his meals at home. In his writing, he shares his passion and knowledge as a home chef from his kitchen to yours.