Sweet Talk: Does Sugar Go Bad?

Sugar is one of the most basic kitchen components which can be found in every home! Its most common use is to sweeten coffee, tea, and other drinks. Sugar is also largely used in baking and making sweet desserts that we crave after a hearty meal!

Because of this, you might worry about how long it will last and if it does go bad.

If you are that curious, then read on.

How Long Does It Last?

Most sugar you buy from the store will have a label that usually reads: “Best within two years”.

However, the shelf life of sugar is indefinite and does not come with an expiration date— meaning you can keep sugar for many years to come and could still be used after such time.

But do not take this ever so lightly. This only applies to store sugar properly.

Does Sugar Go Bad?

As I have said earlier, sugars have an infinite timeframe which only means sugar does not expire. When properly stored, sugar does not spoil or go bad.

Does Sugar Go Bad

Sugar is prized as a preservative since it does not support bacteria growth. For centuries, sugar has been used to preserve juices, jams, and other goodies.

But it can still go bad, in a different way!

1. In Terms Of Texture

Sugar loves water.

When sugar is exposed to moisture and is stored for a very long time, it clumps together and hardens. And rather than being separately granulated, sugar, when exposed to moisture, will form various sizes of sugar balls.

However, you do not need to worry. Sugars with a “bad” texture are still not bad as sugar. It still has the sweetness, and the clumps can be broken down into smaller granules as it was before.

Sugar clumping is quite normal if there is moisture in storage containers.

2. In Terms Of Contamination

Now, this one is a problem.

Sugar itself does not allow any bacteria to live on its crystals.

However, dust and other contaminating materials can accumulate your sugar during storage. And these factors can become the breeding ground for bacteria which can make parts of sugar contaminated or go bad.

However, the sugar itself can be saved if you remove the “contaminated” parts.

For instance

You bought a whole sack of sugar, and the bottom part was accidentally contaminated by dirty water. Well, you can still use the top part since the bacteria cannot cross the sugar crystals.


Contaminated sugar is very much different from clumped sugar. A contaminated sugar is already bad sugar that cannot be used anymore, while clumped sugars can still be used and still have the sweet taste.

Furthermore, bugs that reach the sugar because of improper storage are another example of contamination. Although sugar does not allow bacteria growth, seeing a jar of sugar-filled with bugs is unsightly, and the next idea to come to mind would be throwing out all the sugar.

Bad, Rotten, or Spoiled Sugar: How To Tell?

Although sugar cannot turn bad, rotten, or spoiled for a very long time, there are particular signs you can look for that will tell you if your sugar is not safe to use anymore.

Does Sugar Go Bad

You might want to look closely at a certain change in color or form over a particular time. Also, you might want to consider smelling the sugar if there is an unwanted odor. You can also do a simple test by using a small spoon and taste the sugar to know if the flavor is still there.

However, the biggest thing that you need to look at is bugs and insects in the container. This is a great sign that the sugar is not safe to be used anymore.

Properly Storing Sugar For Extending Shelf Life

There are different types of sugar. However, whatever type of sugar you might have, storing is pretty much the same for all types.

Does Sugar Go Bad

You need to store sugar in a cool and dry place like a specialized container or a cupboard. Keep it away from extreme temperatures such as stoves and microwaves since it can cause condensation to form in the containers, thus hardening the sugar.

And if you are thinking about storing it in the fridge, then you better stop!

The two main things that you need to protect your sugar from are pests and moisture.

The fridge allows moisture to accumulate, so it is a big no-no. The best place to store sugar is in air-tight containers. This should prevent sugars from hardening and clumping together.  Other than preventing moisture, this should also prevent the sugar from picking aromas from other food.

Pests can also become a problem if they reach your sugars. Anyone who accidentally left a few granules of sugar knows how easy it becomes quickly overrun by ants. Storing sugar in a bug-free container should make it easier to keep your kitchen neat and clean.

Furthermore, some home cooks add a piece of bread or marshmallow to stored sugar to keep it from hardening and clumping together. If you do this, make sure to replace the bread often not to become moldy.

Sweet Thoughts

So, does sugar go bad?

Yes and no.

Yes, in terms of texture and contamination, and no if it is properly sealed and stored.

Properly stored sugar can last forever, but I doubt that it will stay there for eternity. After all, sugar is the most common ingredient used to give sweetness in our life, right?

I hope you find this article useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to reach me through the comment section below.

Until then, have a very lovely day!

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