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Keeping Sweeteners Fresher Longer

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2009

Here's how to prolong the lives of these essential kitchen ingredients.

Shelf Life

Granulated Sugar, Honey, and Molasses: Long-lasting Maple Syrup: 2 years unopened, 1 year open

Do store granulated sugar in an airtight container to protect it from heat, moisture, and critters.

Do keep molasses and honey in the pantry (in the fridge, molasses temporarily turns into a thick, unpourable sludge, and honey crystallizes).

Do store unopened maple syrup in the pantry, but move the opened syrup to the refrigerator. Because of its high moisture level and lack of preservatives, maple syrup is susceptible to the growth of yeast, mold, and bacteria.

Reviving Crystallized Honey

To remove the crystals, open a glass honey jar, put it in a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water, and heat until it reaches 160 degrees.

Softening Brown Sugar

When brown sugar comes into contact with air, the moisture in the sugar evaporates, and the sugar turns rock-hard. Here are two easy methods to soften it.

Quick Fix: Place the hardened brown sugar in a bowl with a slice of sandwich bread. cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 to 20 seconds.

Ongoing Remedy: Store brown sugar in a sealed container with a terra cotta Brown Sugar Bear ($3.25), which gets a brief soak in water before being added to the sugar.

Keep granulated sugar in an airtight container to preserve freshness.

Save honey that has crystallized by warming it in a saucepan of water.

Microwaving brown sugar with a slice of bread is one way to soften it.

A Brown Sugar Bear is a permanent fix for keeping brown sugar soft.