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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, April 24

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Recipe Fri Apr 06 2007

Reanimating Brown Sugar

There’s not all that many culinary occasions that call for brown sugar, but when it’s needed, there’s just no substitute. So, we all keep that box of brown sugar hidden away somewhere in the pantry or the fridge and pull it out a few times a year just to carve a couple of chunks from the rock-hard mass. Then it’s promptly sent back to kitchen purgatory to await the next batch of cookies, sweet potatoes, or glazed ham.

Improvising a hammer and chisel just to free a few tablespoons of sugary goodness can be maddening if not downright dangerous business. And if you’re anything like me, it’s guaranteed to be a messy, sugar-strewn affair.

(Insert your TV infomercial battle cry, “There’s Gotta Be a Better Way!” here.)

Yes, there certainly is.

The preferred method in our kitchen is to put a damp—not dripping—cloth over the top of the sugar bowl, placing the lid on top (bowls and jars are far classier than that old beat-up cardboard box the sugar came in a few years ago, right?). Leave it be for a few hours and you’ll find the brown sugar far more agreeable than it’s been. Leave overnight and it’ll be as friendly as the day you took it home!

If you’re in a hurry you can always pop the bowl, cloth and lid in the microwave for a minute, but be sure to heat at short intervals and watch vigilantly as it is sugar, after all, and is more than happy to melt. And if you don’t have a cloth or towel handy, or just dislike trees, you can always use a few paper towels.

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Louisa / April 6, 2007 3:26 PM

To prevent this from happening again, just stick the whole box or bag into a resealable container or bag. Soft brown sugar every time.

Aly / April 9, 2007 5:29 PM

You can also put a piece of bread in the bag with the sugar. The bread will get hard and the sugar soft.

Steph / April 12, 2007 4:32 PM

Hi there -- try freezing it! I read this somewhere, and it works like a charm. Put your brown sugar in a plastic container, freeze, and then when you need it, take it out and let it sit for just about five minutes. Even with that time, it's much easier than dealing with hardened chunks.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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