Both white and brown sugar require special storage containers to help protect them from moisture. Air, which hardens brown sugar, will cause both white and brown sugar to lump or form clumps. Thus, both must be stored in rustproof, airtight containers to extend their shelf lives and make them easier to add to drinks and use in recipes. In addition to using the proper containers to store sugar, you can add several well-known items to the jar to help prevent it from lumping.
Place white sugar in a container with an airtight lid for short or long periods of time. Place a slice of soft white bread in the jar to help absorb the moisture that accumulates inside. The bread helps to draw out the moisture. Be sure to replace the slice of bread periodically, as it tends to mold over time. Store the container in a cool and dry location.
White sugar lumps due to too much moisture, while brown sugar tends to get hard and lumpy when exposed to the air that dries it out. Brown sugar must be kept moist to avoid hardness and subsequent lumps. Place a whole lemon, lime or orange in the container holding brown sugar. The moisture in the fruit helps soften the sugar and prevent clumping.
A good moisture absorber for the sugar bowl or jar is a saltine cracker. Add the cracker or crackers to the bottom of the bowl or jar. Crackers help remove the moisture from the sugar, thereby preventing lumping and clumping. One drawback to using crackers, however, is that they tend to break up when the sugar is shaken.
Plain white rice mixes well with sugar and helps absorb moisture. One of the benefits derived from placing rice in the sugar container is that it will not crumble over time and blends well with the sugar. Place approximately one teaspoon of rice in a mesh or cloth teabag and put it directly in the bottom of the jar with the sugar poured over it. Replace the rice bag every two months.
Place a small slice of fresh apple, with the peel still attached, in the jar containing brown sugar. The natural moisture in the apple helps soften the sugar and prevent it from clumping in the container. When brown sugar is not used very often, it dries out and begins to harden and stick together like glue. Adding the apple replaces the moisture so that the sugar is much easier to work with in your cooking.
References and ResourcesBaking Bites: How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft
Robbie's Kitchen: Cooking Tips - Miscellaneous Ingredients
C&H Sugar: FAQ's