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I just took out my (already opened) bag of sugar from the cabinet to refill my canister, and the sugar from the bag has a weird smell. The smell doesn't smell like anything in particular, just weird and kind of sour. Can sugar go bad? Can/should I still use it?

asked by bexcahlik almost 6 years ago
8 answers 2967 views
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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 6 years ago

It's hard to imagine that sugar can go bad, but my philosophy on these things is if in doubt, throw it out.

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added almost 6 years ago

I don't think it went bad. I recall a funky smell from sugar before when it is closed up. I thought it was from the plastic container, but sugar can be from cane or beets, which might affect that. And I think it is filtered through charcoal or something that uses animal bones. I'd areate it.

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added almost 6 years ago

Use about 1/4 of the sugar and 1/4 water to make a simple syrup. If it smells off as it cooks or tastes off once cool, toss the sugar. If it seems okay...aerate the sugar before putting it in your canister.

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added almost 6 years ago

Ooops...that should be 1/4 cup of each, sugar and water!

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added almost 6 years ago

Pure cane sugar should not go bad. Perhaps it was contaminated in some way (a measuring cup or spoon reused) or stored next to some strong-smelling food item? I go through a lot of sugar at home and at work (I'm a baker); I've never had this happen. If the smell is strong enough that you noticed it, I would not use this sugar. Safety issues aside, it's a big enough ingredient in most baked goods that it could affect flavor. My boyfriend keeps beet sugar for some home brewing recipes, I've never noticed a sour smell from it.

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added almost 6 years ago

Occasionally, I notice a smell with sugar - not really molasses-y, but along those lines. Could it be something like that? If it's something very strong or noticeable, I'd throw it out... better safe than sorry!

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added almost 6 years ago

Could just be a moisture issue. Sugar is cheap, so probably just toss it rather than risk a weird flavour in your finished product, but in terms of food safety, hard to imagine an issue unless the sugar is contaminated. Sugar is an excellent preservative!

Any chance you're just particularly sensitive at the moment? having a bit of hay fever or flu that might make your nose more sensitive? sugar does actually have a smell, particularly the less processed it is. Maybe you're just noticing it more for some reason?

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added almost 6 years ago

thanks for the answers everyone! the smell was still there after I let it aerate, so I'm going to toss it. And, it turns out the recipe I'm making called for more sugar than I had, so I had to buy more anyway!