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When I purchase sugar the bags are often brick hard.

  • How does this happen?
  • Is the sugar 'damaged' some how?
  • Is it safe to use?
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about venting unhappiness; obviously no one can answer for a store's behavior in the abstract. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 6 '13 at 16:23
    
I'm not entirely clear what you are actually asking about. You seem to know why sugar gets hard in the presence of moisture. Are you asking how to avoid it? fix it? or are you asking about the best practices or regulation of the grocery industry (probably off topic)? Please feel free to add more information to your question and 'flag' to reopen. Thanks. –  Robert Cartaino Sep 6 '13 at 16:25
    
I'm going to reopen it based on the current state, but Lois, if this is not what you're trying to ask, please do edit it further. @CosCallis Note that you may have significantly changed the intent of the question; I think it will turn out okay in this case but do be cautious about this. (And also, do try to avoid answering in comments.) –  Jefromi Sep 6 '13 at 19:15
    
@Jefromi, you will note that I rarely edit the questions of others, and only did so in this case because I believe that there was a valid 'underlying' question, once the OP's personal frustration was removed. I have removed the 'answer in a comment'. –  Cos Callis Sep 6 '13 at 19:21
    
@CosCallis I'm all for saving questions. The point was just to be cautious in situations like this, where the OP may or may not agree that this was the underlying question. –  Jefromi Sep 6 '13 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

This happens when sugar is exposed to moisture. I've noticed this frequently happening when sugar is shipped on a refrigerated truck, then stored at room temperature, allowing some condensation to form. Whether the sugar is "damaged" or not depends on what you want to use it for. If you're going to put it in coffee, or otherwise dissolve it, it should be fine. If you want to sprinkle it over a donut, it probably won't work.

Whether it's safe or not is a much harder question to answer, as it would depend entirely on how it was exposed to moisture. If it's from humidity or condensation, it should be fine. If it's from something being spilled or splashed on the bag, who knows?

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Sugar refineries in the US are located in the South-East (Fl, La & Ga) which are all very hot and humid during the summer months. This climate allows for some moisture to condense in and around the bags. Add to that sugar is packaged for transportation in tightly packed bags, stacked on pallets, with pallets on pallets then stuffed into cargo vans and the slightly moist sugar becomes hard packed. It is completely safe to use just break it up a bit.

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If it's a single rock-hard block, how do you "break it up a bit" enough to smoothly sprinkle or cream with butter? –  Jefromi Sep 6 '13 at 19:39
    
As I read OP's original question (and my revision) the sugar inside the bag is not 'brick-hard' but rather the bag of sugar is. I have encountered this situation regularly but have never encounter a 'brick-o-sugar'. However, I would estimate that such a brick could be broken down with a meat tenderizing mallet and then spun in a food processor to restore the original sugar crystals. Larger 'chunks' could be dissolved in a small amount of warm butter then added to the remaining volume of soft butter for creaming... –  Cos Callis Sep 6 '13 at 19:49
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Dissolved sugar won't cream butter. –  sourd'oh Sep 6 '13 at 21:43

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