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

By: Chrisjob Jun 01, 2007

Brown sugar gets hard. And crusty. And crumbly. And eventually unusable.

 


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 something else, perhaps postage to share with me some of the delicious goods you’ve baked with your eternally soft brown sugar?

Ingredients:

One small terra cotta drainage dish
Sink or large bowl (and water)
Non-toxic marker (optional, but recommended)

1. Grab a handful of change, and head to the nursery or the craft store and purchase a drainage dish for a terra cotta pot. A 3" dish works well.

2. Since an orange circle is not nearly as adorable as a bear, you can give your sugar-saver a little more personality with a simple smile, drawn on by a non-toxic marker.


3. Soak your sugarman (or sugarwoman) in water for a half an hour, then store it buried in brown sugar in whatever vessel you normally do so. It will keep your sugar clump-free for about six months. After that time, simply give it a soak for another half hour. (Or, do as I do, and soak it during baking/cooking time each time you use it).

You can also use your new friend (or a family member) to keep baked goods, popcorn, and raisins fresh. (I think it also works on tobacco, but I shant encourage use.) And, if dried in an oven, it’ll keep salt and spices dry, and potato chips fresh.

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Comments

As anyone tried to break the bear into 6-8 pieces and place pieces in spice bottles to keep spices from clumping?

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Put a few drops of water in the plastic bag holding the Brown sugar "rock",stash in the frig a while and voila, just like New: soft crumbly and usable

I have used a slice of bread too for years

A piece of white bread works just as well.

This would work exceptionally for keeping your stash from drying out too much, and if it was too wet to start with it would absorb the moisture, leaving the correct level of moisture.  Not that I assume you do that, but I'm sure others do.
Dumb question: after you soak the terracota dish in water, is it important to dry it thoroughly before putting it into the sugar?  It seems that if not, the sugar will get clumpy from the moisture.

As for the vegetables grown in a terra cotta pot: The pot is going to sit outside for many weeks, and anything that leaches will either be washed out or soil-filtered. Remember the adage: The poison's in the dose.

I personally don't grow vegetables in terra cotta pots because they need more room, and plastic at that size is cheaper and less fragile. Not that there aren't worries about plastic leachate as well, but that's a different discussion. I have even seen terra cotta/clay pots sold in garden stores that say outright "Not for Food Use." I just want people to think first, that's all.

I still will not use any terracotta for cooking that is not food-rated, and traceable to someone (Canadian or otherwise) who is going to be responsible for marketing an item made for food use. Just because it doesn't make you outright sick right away, does not mean there aren't any unnecessary heavy metals leaching out.

As for the (relatively irrelevant) pet food comment, the wheat gluten in question was not made in Canada, but in China, where if you have noticed, has very few standards. Ditto with Mexico, esp. for items that are not food-rated. I have found that Canada generally has higher standards about people food safety than the US, which is why I made that comment. The pet food tragedy caught everyone off guard and it's kinda low to exploit it.

Thanks for your concerns. However, I have seen hundreds of recipes that invoke the use of terra cotta for cookware- flowerpot breads, casseroles cooked in large drainage dishes, baking stones made of terra cotta tiles, and even slow smoked barbecue cooked in a earthenware smoker made of terra cotta planters.

Most of all, I can't imagine anyone would hesitate to eat fresh vegetables or herbs grown in a terra cotta pot.

I'm sure a thorough washing, and if desired, baking the piece at 400-degrees for an hour, would make this often used cooking surface usable. Your mileage may vary. Cheers.

Remember that it was a Canadian company that was responsible for packaging and marketing all that wonderful pet food that was tainted with bad Chinese wheat gluten. Don't trust things just because they're Canadian.
I would be very nervous putting terra cotta of unknown origin into my food products. It can be contaminated with heavy metals, esp. if it's from Mexico or Asia. Frankly, I trust a Canadian teddy a whole lot more since I'm sure they wouldn't sell one that's not food-safe.
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