Harness The Power Of Terra Cotta To Keep Brown Sugar Soft And Granulated

We hate getting halfway through a recipe only to find our brown sugar solid as a rock. Thankfully, Curbly has discovered a way to keep us rolling in lusciously soft brown sugar.

So, some genius Canadians came up with this adorable option: a bear-shaped chunk of terra cotta that keeps your brown sugar pliable and granulated. And at the best price of three dollars (plus shipping), it’s a pretty good deal. But three dollars is three dollars, and when you can DIY one for 29 cents, you could better spend the remaining $2.70 on postage to send me the delicious goods you’ve baked with your eternally soft brown sugar.

We never knew terra cotta soaked in water for 30 minutes could suppress brown sugar’s petrifying urges. Check out Curbly for the full instructions. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Say Goodbye to Clumpy, Hard Brown Sugar (for 30 cents) [Curbly]


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  1. cmac says:

    My mother got me one of the cute $3.00 ones and they work amazingly well. I’ve had the same soft brown sugar for over a year

  2. tcp100 says:

    Or you could just put the sugar in the microwave for about 12 seconds..? Works pretty well too.

  3. ahwannabe says:

    A drainage tray made for a potted plant may not be food-grade. I’d stick with the three dollar bear.

  4. not_seth_brundle says:

    @ahwannabe: That’s why you send the cookies you bake to that smug Curbly person.

  5. amalgamator says:

    uh, even easier is just put a piece of bread in the bag. Or just store it in the freezer. I think that we’ve lost a lot of these simple tips our grandmother consider common knowledge.

  6. etinterrapax says:

    Any airtight container will keep brown sugar soft forever. I keep mine in in one of those Click-Clack things from Target.

  7. gwilson says:

    Yeah, my family has always just tossed a slice of bread in the brown sugar container to resoften it. It’s way easier than soaking terra cotta for 30 minutes and it puts to use those bread heels that no one seems to eat.

  8. RST1123 says:

    MMM Terra Cotta Pie.

  9. Tallanvor says:

    @ahwannabe: If you’re worried about the piece of ceramic not being sanitary, you can always bake it (1/2 hour at around 400 degrees should be enough).

    Even Alton Brown recommends getting a big unfinished ceramic tile or something similar rather than spending money on an official pizza stone.

    Personally, though, I agree with etinterrapax‘s advice. A decent quality airtight container keeps brown sugar fresh just fine.

  10. Havok154 says:

    Banana Terra Cotta Pie?

  11. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Tallanvor: I put 6 8×8 unglazed red tiles on the bottom rack of my oven. Since then, everything cooks so much better. And was WAY cheaper than a pizza stone. I think I came in under six dollars.

  12. RST1123 says:


    I know how to spell banana, I just don’t know when to stop.

  13. priznat says:

    A slice of apple also works to keep the brown sugar soft and not clumped up, FYI.

  14. yahonza says:

    I’d like to see a controlled experiment showing that Terra Cotta keeps Brown sugar soft.

  15. doodbugboodles says:

    FYI- If it is partially glazed, like on the inside to keep it from leaking, it will probably be a lead based glaze. Most glazed pottery has some type of do not use for food sticker.

  16. bohemian says:

    You can also get small terra cotta items at craft stores for about 10 cents, like mini pots.

    We use the unglazed 6×6 tiles in our oven. We made sure they were clay tiles not some faux unglazed type. Scrubbed them with soap and water and ran the oven on 500 for an hour before we used them. They go great things for baking bread on them too.

    I don’t use anything in brown sugar. We keep it in an airtight jar and it doesn’t clump.

  17. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Yeah…the slice of apple one and the airtight container one are the ones known to me already. The microwaving one just makes spending money on a plant holder specifically for brown sugar ridiculous.

  18. Tallanvor says:

    @yahonza: It’s actually not surprising that this would work. Brown sugar is just sugar that still has some of the molasses in it (dark brown sugar has more than light brown sugar, obviously). If you’re not keeping it in an airtight container, a damp piece of unglazed ceramic will help keep a proper moisture level in the container.

    But really, an airtight container is a much better option.

  19. muimi07 says:

    My vote goes to air tight containers as well. I usually get the brown sugar that’s already in a zip bag — I just double bag it with another zip bag to be extra sure. It’s simple and there’s no need to replenish a piece of bread or terracotta.

  20. Lee2706 says:

    Mrs. and I also use the unglazed tile Alton Brown trick for pizza stone. Works great.

    To add to the usefulness of an inexpensive clay pot and drip tray is to repurpose it as a garlic pot. If you go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond Useful, they sell pretty garlic pots to keep your garlic heads fresh for like $3-5.

    Ripoff. Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and get the smallest pot and drip tray. Wash them in soap and water, let them dry out and use the drip tray as a cover. Keeps the garlic nice and dry! And you don’t feel so bad when you accidentally break it….

  21. softsmyth says:

    Freeze the brown sugar. It keeps forever and stays soft without adding anything to it! Now if I can just stay away from all of those cookies I bake…

  22. shaygo says:

    i’ve always had success by putting a small piece of bread in the brown sugar — it keeps it soft and clump free and there is no extra cost to me since i bought the bread anyway.

  23. HeartBurnKid says:

    Just put your sugar in a zip-top bag with one of those heel pieces of bread we all hate anyway. Takes this down from 39 cents to about 2 cents.