Types of Brown Sugar

The two readily available types of brown sugar are light brown and dark brown.

So, what’s the difference between light brown and dark brown sugar?
The difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses that has been added to the raw sugar in the final stages of processing.

Simple enough, but let’s delve into the different types of brown sugar just a little deeper.

types of brown sugar

Types of Brown Sugar

Exploring Brown Sugar Types

What is brown sugar?
Brown sugar, whether light brown or dark brown sugar, is actually white sugar with molasses added. The difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses that was added. The addition of molasses makes brown sugar moister and tastier than white sugar.

The following picture shows dark brown sugar on the left and light brown sugar on the right. The sugar at the top of the picture was made by adding in even more molasses to show how molasses makes the sugar moist and the more molasses added, the more the sugars will stick and clump together.

brown sugar types

How is brown sugar made?
An interesting tidbit about types of brown sugar is that when sugar cane is refined, molasses is actually extracted from the sugar cane during the process of making refined sugar. If light brown sugar or dark brown sugar is the desired product, then molasses is added back into the sugar crystals during the final stages of refinement.

When to use which type?
Light brown sugar is most often used in baking, sauces, and glazes.
Dark brown sugar, because its rich molasses flavor, is most often used in sturdier recipes like gingerbread.

How to store brown sugar?
Both types of brown sugars store best in airtight containers and have a very long shelf life. If they come in resealable plastic bags, then continue to store them there after opening – simply squeeze the air out of the bag before re-sealing. Storing brown sugar in this way keeps it fresh and moist for far longer than the old boxes ever did, but keep in mind that if it does dry out and harden it can be restored (see additional info below).

Can you make your own brown sugar in a pinch?
Yes, if you’ve got granulated sugar, molasses and a food processor (or dry grains blender) then it’s no problem. Simply place a pound of granulated sugar along with about 3 ounces of molasses into the food processor and process until the molasses is fully incorporated into the sugar.

Types of Brown Sugar

Additional Info

To find out how long brown sugar lasts and how to restore hardened brown sugar to its original state, see our brown sugar page.

For help with measuring brown sugar, see our measuring brown sugar post.

To find a substitute for brown sugar, check out our brown sugar substitute page.

To find out about Turbinado sugar, see our turbinado post.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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