Home Articles How to Soften Hard White Sugar (7 Best Methods)

How to Soften Hard White Sugar (7 Best Methods)

Hard Sugar Cubes on a Wooden Bowl

The best methods to soften hard white sugar are by using a paper towel, or using a pestle, apple, or microwave. There are also a few other tricks you can try.

It can be a real downer when you need sugar for a recipe and find it’s rock hard! Luckily, these tried-and-true methods will show you how to soften it and save the day.

So grab your sugar and let’s get to work softening!

Why Does White Sugar Get Hard? 

White sugar becomes hard due to a process called “caking.” There are several reasons why this occurs:

  • Moisture absorption: Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it has the ability to absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. When exposed to humid conditions, the sugar crystals attract water molecules. This leads to the formation of sticky syrup. As this syrup dries out, it creates a bond between the sugar crystals, causing them to stick together and form lumps or hard clumps.
  • Temperature changes: Fluctuations in temperature can also contribute to sugar caking. Sugar becomes exposed to moisture and then subjected to higher temperatures. As a result, the water can evaporate, leaving the sugar crystals to bond together.
  • Poor storage conditions: Improper storage can accelerate sugar caking. If it’s stored in a humid environment, it will absorb moisture and become hard. This also happens if it’s stored in an open container or in a place where temperature changes frequently (like near an oven or stove).
Hard and Granulated Sugar on a Wooden Bowl

How to Soften Hard White Sugar (7 Methods.)

1. Wet Paper Towel Method

Just grab a paper towel and dampen it slightly so it’s not soaking wet. Pop it in your sugar container, seal it up, and let it sit overnight. Be patient, and the paper towel will gradually soften those stubborn sugar chunks. 

The next day, remove the paper towel and grab a fork. Crush the chunks and the sugar will be soft and ready to use.

2. Pestle or Meat Tenderizer Method

Grab a deep bowl and place the stubborn sugar chunk inside. Sprinkle just a tiny bit of water over it, being careful not to overdo it. Too much water will make things worse. 

Cover the bowl with a dish towel to contain the mess. Take out your trusty pestle or meat tenderizer. Give the sugar chunks a good beating until they break down. Smash away until the sugar is back to its granulated glory. 

Just remember to do this in an area that’s easy to clean up. Get ready for sugar success, minus the mess!

3. Apple Method

Have an apple lying around? It’s not just for snacking. It can save your hardened sugar, too! Grab a knife and slice the apple, removing the core. Place a couple of apple slices on top of the sugar in the container and seal it up. 

Be patient and leave it overnight. The magic happens as the apple releases its moisture, softening the sugar over time. When morning comes, say goodbye to the apple slices, and grab a fork. Crush the once-hard chunks into sweet, granulated goodness.

4. Microwave Method

Get a microwave-safe glass container and put your hardened sugar in it. Spritz the sugar lightly with just a tiny bit of water. Microwave it on high power for 5 minutes. 

Once it’s done, break the sugar back to its original state with a fork. If it needs more softening, be patient and let it cool before giving it another go.

5. Oven Method

Grab a casserole dish and place your stubborn sugar inside. Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature, around 150-200°F (65-93°C). Bake the sugar in the oven for 10-15 minutes. 

Once it’s done, gently tap the sugar with a spoon to break up any big chunks. Then, let it cool down completely. Finally, grab a fork and give any remaining chunks a gentle break

6. Food Processor or Coffee Grinder Method

Just load your food processor or coffee grinder halfway with the stubborn sugar chunks. Switch it on and give it a couple of quick pulses. Voilà! Your sugar will be broken up in no time. 

But beware, don’t blend it for too long, or you’ll wind up with powdered sugar instead.

7. Steaming Method

Looking for a speedy solution? Steam is your go-to! Grab a large pot and fill it with 2 cups of water. Place your hardened sugar in a heat-safe bowl and set it in the center of the pot. Be sure the water covers less than half of the bowl’s height. 

Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Let it boil for 5-7 minutes, adding more water if you think it’s necessary. Once the sugar easily breaks with a spoon, take it off the heat. Crush the sugar into its former glory and let it cool down completely.

Sugar in a Jar

Tips to Prevent White Sugar From Getting Hard

  • Store it in an air-tight container: Transfer white sugar to an air-tight container with a secure lid. This will help keep out moisture and prevent the sugar from caking.
  • Keep it dry: Store sugar in a cool, dry place away from any sources of moisture, such as sinks, stoves, or humid areas in the kitchen.
  • Use moisture-absorbing agents: Consider adding moisture-absorbing agents like silica gel packets or rice to the sugar container. These agents help absorb excess moisture and keep the sugar dry.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations: Avoid storing sugar near appliances that generate heat. Temperature changes cause condensation and promote caking.
  • Keep the bag sealed: If you haven’t transferred the sugar to an air-tight container, ensure the bag is tightly sealed after each use.
  • Separate from other food items: Store sugar away from foods with strong odors. It will absorb odors and flavors from its surroundings.
  • Regularly check and rotate stock: If you buy sugar in bulk, check it periodically for any signs of caking. Rotate your stock, using older sugar first to ensure it stays fresh.
How to Soften Hard White Sugar

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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