Sugar is one of the most basic kitchen components which can be found in every home! Its most common uses it to sweeten coffee, tea, and other drinks. Sugar is also largely used in baking and making sweet desserts that we always crave for after a hearty meal!
Because of this, you might worry on how long will it 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 2 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 properly store sugar.
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.
As a matter of fact, 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 moist, will form various sizes of sugar balls.
However, you do not need to worry. Sugars with “bad” texture are still not bad as a 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 to be contaminated or go bad.
However, the sugar itself can be saved if you remove the “contaminated” parts.
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 with clumped sugar. A contaminated sugar is already bad sugar which 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 storing is 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 in 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 period of time, there are particular signs you can look for that will tell you if your sugar is not safe to use anymore.
You might want to look closely if there is a certain change in color or form over a particular period of 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 the presence of 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.
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 2 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, there are some home cooks who add a piece of bread or marshmallow to stored sugar in order to keep it from hardening and clumping together. If you do this, just make sure to replace the bread often so that it does not become moldy.
Yes and no.
Yes, in terms of texture and contamination, and no if it 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 suggestion, feel free to reach me through the comment section below.
Until then, have a very sweet day!