Does sugar expire?

Does sugar expire?

If you've taken a long summer break from baking, you may be wondering if your sugar levels have gone bad while you've been away. The good news: Sugar doesn't really expire. (Unlike some other ingredients, like flour!)
Here's what you need to know about how sugar can last, including a little background on the history of sugar as a preservative (of course!) and information about the different types of sugar that behave when you store them for a long time.


Why granulated sugar does not expire

Granulated white sugar actually has a very short expiration date, especially when stored in a dry, dark place. This is why foods like jelly and peanut butter can be good for a long time, because sugar works as an effective preservative.
In fact, historically, sugar (in addition to salt or smoking) was used to preserve food before the advent of refrigeration, according to the Sugar Nutrition Resource Center. This is because sugar absorbs water from food and water is essential for bacteria to grow. (That's why sugar is often a key ingredient in marinades too!)

How do you know if sugar has gone bad?
Although sugar may not expire, it can be contaminated by pests, moisture, and other factors that can affect its quality or make it unusable. Sugar can also absorb aromas and flavors, which is good if you want to add vanilla bean to create vanilla sugar, but not so much if your sugar is added to something less sweet and fragrant.
Most food safety agencies recommend throwing out the sugar after two years, but if you don't notice any changes in flavor or quality, old sugar will work as well as a bag of fresh sugar. You may have questions about the different types of sugar - so read on to learn how to prepare them whenever you're ready to create your next cookie or other delicious treat.

Does brown sugar expire?
Brown sugar has a bad reputation for "going bad," which means it hardens when exposed to air. If you've ever seen a bag of brown sugar turn into bricks after being left in its original packaging, you know exactly what we're talking about.
An airtight container keeps your brown sugar from going hard. You can also use a terracotta disk designed for this purpose (just mix it with your brown sugar). But if you're running out of time, a quick microwave or a little water mixed with it can help soften the sugar.

To get the most out of your brown sugar, store it in an airtight container and use it within two years for freshness and flavor. You can also store brown sugar in the freezer, but keep in mind that you will want it to thaw for a few hours before you use it.


Does sugar confectioners expire?
Confectionery sugar (also called powdered sugar) can also last for years if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. However, like white and brown sugar, if icing sugar is covered with water or air, it will not taste good. Your best bet is to transfer any sugar you have into an airtight container and store it in the back of the pantry.

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