Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad How Long Does It Last
Image: Lucky Belly

We might need to begin with the basics here. Most probably, it might be the first time someone is hearing and reading about powdered sugar. So, anyway, what is powdered sugar? Powdered sugar, otherwise called icing or confectioners’ sugar, is a refined sugar form. It is made by grinding the regular granulated sugar into powder form.

Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad?

Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad
Image: Lucky Belly

Powdered sugar is mainly used as a baking ingredient. It consists of a small amount of anti-caking agent to allow it to flow easily and prevent clumping. Sugar, in most cases, is produced large scale in food production factories. However, it can also be made at home by grinding sugar in a coffee grinder or crusher.

The sugar in the market is found in different variations, depending on how refined the sugar is. There are three most common types of this refined sugar. The sugar has an excellently durable shelf life if well stored.  It can last more than three years beyond its expected shelf life and still be safe for use.

How Long Does Powdered Sugar Last?

How Long Does Powdered Sugar Last
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The shelf life of powdered sugar mainly depends on how you store it. If stored away from contaminants, the sugar can last indefinitely. However, most manufacturers put a label with the ‘best before’ dates ranging between one and two years to get the best quality.

Though, the dates do not necessarily suggest that the sugar has expired. Even when you use the sugar three or more years later, it will have no noticeable difference as long as it is well stored. Note that you should keep the sugar in a cool, dry area to prevent contaminants from coming into contact.

However, powdered sugar might go bad quickly when exposed to moisture. Consequently, when the sugar absorbs moisture, it forms lumps and bugs and absorbs more concentrated odors in the process. Just like any other form of sugar, powdered sugar does not have an exact expiry date.

However, when you store it poorly and expose it to moisture and contaminants, you can’t reverse the damage. Also, you should be keen when storing the sugar in your pantry. Essentially, the pantry should be away from direct heat sources and sunlight. Further, the pantry should be free of insects that might cause damage to the sugar.

Sealed powdered sugar

Pantry
Powdered sugar lasts

Indefinite, though within two years

2 Tips to Tell If Powdered Sugar Has Gone Bad

2 Tips to Tell If Powdered Sugar Has Gone Bad
Image: Lucky Belly

Unless you are a frequent baker, you will only use powdered sugar from time to time. That could mean you will regularly stumble upon open half-used containers of powdered sugar around your kitchen most of the time. Funny enough, you could have long forgotten about the leftover sugar.

However, that is all okay as we have all been in such situations one time. Once you see the sugar, the most likely concern to pop up in your mind is to identify whether the sugar has gone stale. The sugar should be perfectly fine even if you bought it some years ago, provided you have kept it in a good environment.

  1. Easily noticeable clumps

It is pretty easy to identify powdered sugar that has gone stale. The sugar forms lumps that are easily noticeable when it is exposed to moisture and humidity. These lumps result from the cornstarch used in the manufacture of the sugar. Consequently, the moisture and high humidity provide an excellent environment for the cornstarch to oxidize, thus forming the clumps.

However, clump formation does not necessarily denote that the sugar has gone stale. Sometimes it could just be minimal oxidation that does not cause any harm to your body. When the clumps are minimal, and the sugar has not lost its taste, you can get rid of them and still utilize them. Essentially, note that the best way to get rid of the clumps is by sifting the sugar through a fine wire mesh before using it on your dessert.

  1. Change of smell

You can easily tell whether powdered sugar is expired by its smell. Stale sugar produces a highly concentrated odor, which emanates from the oxidized cornstarch. Every severe baker knows the neutral scent of fresh powdered sugar. So, it would be an easy task to identify sugar that has gone stale.

3 Tips to Store Powdered Sugar

3 Tips to Store Powdered Sugar
Image: Lucky Belly

Storing powdered sugar is quite an easy task. If you use sugar quite often, there is no need to use complicated storage measures. Interestingly, powdered sugar has quite a commendable shelf life. However, if you only use the sugar once in a while, there is no need to utilize advanced measures to retain its quality. We will discuss some of the most common storage ways and tips below.

  • Storing in the pantry at room temperature

The best and most used method is storing the sugar in the pantry at room temperature, for starters. This method is used by approximately three-quarters of all the bakers in the world. Besides, it is the most recommended method by almost all manufacturers. You will rarely find any sugar manufacturer stating you should freeze the sugar under any circumstance.

The method is widely accepted because it does not involve a lot of costs. To get the best of it, you need to keep the sugar in a cool and dry pantry. Consequently, humidity and moisture are the worst enemies of powdered sugar. These make it develop clumps that contribute to its subsequent spoilage.

Further, it would be best if you kept it as far from water sources as possible. When water comes into contact with the sugar, it gets dump and molds and bacteria start breeding. This could cause foodborne illnesses when consumed. Additionally, you should keep powdered sugar in a well-sealed airtight container to prevent pests and insects from gaining access and spoiling it.

Powdered sugar is quite sensitive to heat. When choosing your storage place, always ensure that it is far from heat sources and direct sunlight. Excessive heat causes the sugar to melt away or, even worse, lose its smoothness. The heat leaves the sugar more prone to spoilage than before.

Apart from that, you should be keen to keep the powdered sugar away from other flavored spices. Funnily, the sugar is very sensitive and absorbs other odors quite fast and quickly. An example is if you store the sugar near a cinnamon-flavored sauce. You won’t be surprised to find your sugar tasting more cinnamon in the subsequent usage. However, it could be a nasty scenario if the sugar absorbed turmeric flavor and you use it unknowingly on your desserts.

  • Storing in the fridge

Consider storing your sugar in the fridge. Though entirely unnecessary, some people still practice it. All you need to do is wrap the unopened sugar packages in a few plastic wrap layers and keep them inside the fridge.

However, if you have already opened the boxes, you need to be more careful. You should transfer the leftovers into a sealable plastic bag and press out as much air as possible before putting it in the fridge.

  • Freezing

You can freeze the sugar for long-lasting freshness. However, freezing the sugar might cause a lumpy result due to the moisture absorbed in the freezer.

All in all, when freezing your powdered sugar, you should follow these simple steps. Start by transferring it from the original packaging to a sealable airtight plastic bag. Next, drive out the excess air, and you are ready to go.

The Risk of Consuming Expired Powdered Sugar

The Risk of Consuming Expired Powdered Sugar
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Consuming expired sugar could be pretty harmful to your health. When sugar stays on the shelf for quite a long time, it starts breeding dangerous components like any other food. Such features include inorganic compounds that are harmful to your body.

These compounds could be caused by pantry pests and insects that find their way into the powdered sugar package. To avoid the risk of illnesses, you should ensure that you keep your pantry free from insects and pests. Additionally, you should keep the powdered sugar in an airtight container to keep away the pests from accessing it.

Further, stale sugar develops molds that could lead to food poisoning and stomach complications. Molds grow on the sugar when it is exposed to humidity and moisture. Notably, moldy sugar has an undesirable taste and texture, which makes it easily identifiable. Further, molds, in most cases, have a different color from the sugar.

The thought of consuming moldy sugar freaks out most people. Most types of mold produce harmful toxins, changing the appearance of the sugar entirely. Besides, other invisible bacteria could find their way into the expired sugar and cause severe foodborne illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting. The severity could be worse for people with low immune.

Can You Freeze Powdered Sugar?

You can freeze powdered sugar. However, this is not the best way to store it. Powdered sugar is not a perishable good, thus freezing it a waste of time and space for other more perishable goods. As earlier stated, powdered sugar can last for more than four years when kept under normal conditions and at room temperature.

Further, freezing the sugar might cause it to absorb the moisture around the freezer, forming clumps. It might take ages to thaw frozen sugar at room temperature, thus causing inconvenience. Additionally, powdered sugar might absorb the odors of other items placed in the freezer and spoil its taste and smell.

All in all, freezing the sugar is quite a straightforward process. First, ensure that there is enough space in the freezer for the sugar package to lie undisturbed. Next, place the unopened box of the sugar in the freezer or optionally put the sugar in a sealed airtight container.

When you want to use the sugar, remove it from the freezer and thaw at room temperature. That said, we can all come to an agreement that freezing powdered sugar is entirely unnecessary. The most convenient way to store powdered sugar is by keeping it under room temperature in a sealed airtight container.

Summary

Powdered sugar is one of the most durable baking ingredients in history. The sugar can stay fresh for more than five years when kept at room temperature. However, it is best you store it in a cool and dry place. Not to mention, you should keep it away from moisture and humidity for the best service.

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