Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar, is a type of sugar consisting of very fine particles. Some types of sugar with small particles, such as castor sugar, are granulated sugars that are naturally very finely granulated. Powdered sugar, on the other hand, is regular white granulated sugar that has been crushed into a very fine, almost dust-like powder. It also contains a small amount of cornstarch to prevent it from clumping and hardening. If this cornstarch fails in its intended task, however, you may need to soften your powdered sugar before you can use it.
Put the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Use a large spoon to break it into smaller pieces and soften it as much as possible.
Place the pieces and any powder from the bowl into a flour sifter. Hold the sifter over a container in which you want to catch the sugar.
Turn the crank on the flour sifter. This should break up the small clumps of powdered sugar, causing perfect powdered sugar to fall out of the bottom of the sifter. Continue turning the crank until all of the sugar has returned to its original powdery state.
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If some of the clumps of powdered sugar do not crumble, push them against the side (not the screen) of the flour sifter with the back of a spoon. This will break them into smaller pieces and help them crumble into perfect powder. You can make your own powdered sugar if yours is so hard you can’t rescue it. Simply put 1 cup of granulated sugar in a blender, add 1 tsp. cornstarch and blend until the sugar reaches a fluffy, powdery consistency.
Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.