It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that brown sugar and butter are two of my favorite food groups. Brown sugar is a must for my favorite holiday cookies, but it also finds it way into winter squash, stir fries, glazes for vegetables and salmon, and best of all, candied bacon!
There’s only one problem: I am usually fighting a hard brick of sugar, and that adds about 10 minutes to my projected cooking time, not to mention a boatful of aggravation.
But one day I found a brown sugar keeper that solved all those problems.
How to Soften Brown Sugar: Other Ways
Before I had a designated brown sugar keeper, I tried the trick of adding apple slices to my brown sugar and enclosing it in a plastic bag. That yielded unappetizing and shriveled apples, and the sugar was still mostly hard.
Next I tried microwaving those brown sugar bricks with a damp paper towel, to mixed results. I was still doing battle with more than a few hard clumps and dealing with melted, gooey sugar. And the same irritation of having to wrestle with a bag of sugar!
Progressive International's Brown Sugar Keeper
I’m not a big fan of single-purpose tools or gadgets, but one day, out shopping in my favorite discount store, I saw this brown sugar container by Progressive International ($13 from Amazon).
(Discount stores have a strange effect on my brain. My resolve to stay focused and on budget usually melts with the first shiny object on the shelf that catches my eye. For a cook, a shiny object could be a brown sugar keeper. We have small but important desires.)
Could such a purchase—we’re not talking about breaking the bank here, friends—make a difference in my life? The short answer is: yes!
I’ve had this keeper for about eight months, and I can tell you, when I need a tablespoon of brown sugar for a marinade or stir-fry, I no longer have to scrape the top off a block of brown sugar cement.
It’s not rocket science to understand how the brown sugar keeper works; it’s just a very efficient way of using the apple trick. A terra cotta disk soaked in water attaches to the lid of an attractive plastic container and helps keep the brown sugar from drying out. The airtight lid closes with a satisfying snap and the container can be stored at room temperature.
It’s like having a stone in your shoe, and suddenly, the stone is gone. You didn’t even notice how much it bothered you until you started to enjoy your walk without the nuisance of that pesky little stone.