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Unveiling the Truth: The Surprising Reality Behind Brown Sugar

Why you should think twice before buying brown sugar

The myth of health

White sugar has always been a staple in our pantries, but its relative, brown sugar, has gained popularity over the years. Many people believe that brown sugar is the healthier option, but is this really true? According to the New York Times, brown sugar is almost as caloric as white sugar. Brown sugar has 17 calories per teaspoon, while white sugar has 16. While brown sugar does contain some beneficial minerals from the molasses, they are present in trace amounts and don’t contribute significantly to its nutritional value.

Brown Sugar’s Upscale Reputation

Brown sugar has gained an upscale reputation, partly due to its higher price compared to white sugar. In addition, brown sugar is known for enhancing the flavor of certain desserts, such as fudge and caramel, and for adding a desirable chewiness. But before we put brown sugar on a pedestal, it’s important to understand that brown sugar, whether light or dark, is not fundamentally different from white sugar. In fact, most commercially available brown sugar is simply white sugar mixed with molasses. The darkness of the sugar depends on the amount of molasses added during processing.

Make your own brown sugar

If you’re surprised by the revelation that most brown sugar is essentially white sugar with molasses, you might be interested in making your own brown sugar. YouTuber Adam Ragusea ditched store-bought brown sugar and decided to make his own. Making brown sugar is incredibly simple. For light brown sugar, simply blend a small amount of molasses with white sugar in a food processor. If you prefer dark brown sugar, add a little more molasses. The exact proportions can vary depending on your taste preferences. Making your own brown sugar gives you control over the darkness and intensity of the flavor.

Preventing brown sugar from hardening

A common problem with brown sugar is its tendency to harden over time, making it difficult to use. However, there are simple tricks to keeping your brown sugar soft and pliable. It is important to store brown sugar in an airtight container to prevent moisture from escaping. Never refrigerate brown sugar, as this can accelerate the hardening process. To keep brown sugar soft, you can place a small terra cotta disk or teddy bear in the container. Soaking the terra cotta object in water for about 15 minutes and then drying it before placing it in the sugar container will help retain moisture and prevent hardening. Alternatively, a piece of fresh bread can be placed in the container to keep the brown sugar fluffy and soft.

Softening hardened brown sugar

If you’re faced with a hardened brick of brown sugar, don’t worry. There are ways to soften it and bring it back to its ideal texture. One method, suggested by Ree Drummond, is to place the lump of sugar in a microwavable bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave the bowl for about 20 seconds, then use a fork to break up the granules. Repeat until the brown sugar is soft. Another option is to use the oven. Wrap the sugar lump in aluminum foil, place it on a baking sheet, and heat at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes. Test for softness and reheat if necessary. Once soft, allow the brown sugar to cool before using it in your recipes.

Bottom line

While brown sugar has a certain appeal and reputation, it’s important to recognize that it is not inherently healthier than white sugar. Most store-bought brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses added. Making your own brown sugar gives you control over its darkness and flavor intensity. To prevent brown sugar from hardening, store it in an airtight container and consider adding a moisture-retaining object such as a terra cotta disk or teddy bear. If your brown sugar does harden, you can easily soften it using methods such as microwaving or baking. With these tips, you can make the most of your brown sugar and enjoy its unique qualities in your favorite recipes.


Is Brown Sugar Healthier Than White Sugar?

No, brown sugar is not significantly healthier than white sugar. While brown sugar contains trace amounts of beneficial minerals from molasses, its caloric content is similar to that of white sugar.

Can I make my own brown sugar?

Yes, you can easily make your own brown sugar by mixing molasses with white sugar. The proportions can be adjusted to achieve the desired darkness and flavor intensity.

Why is brown sugar more expensive than white sugar?

Brown sugar tends to be more expensive due to its perceived premium reputation and the additional processing involved in mixing molasses with white sugar.

How do I keep brown sugar from hardening?

To prevent brown sugar from hardening, store it in an airtight container and avoid refrigeration. Adding a moisture-retaining object, such as a terra cotta disk or a piece of fresh bread, can also help keep it soft.

What should I do if my brown sugar has already hardened?

If your brown sugar has hardened, you can soften it by placing it in the microwave with a damp paper towel or in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil. Be sure to test the softness and let it cool before using it in your recipes.

Does the darkness of brown sugar affect its flavor?

Yes, the darkness of brown sugar can affect its flavor. Darker brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor, while lighter brown sugar has a milder flavor. Adjusting the amount of molasses when making your own brown sugar allows you to customize the flavor to your liking.

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