Here’s How to Store Sugar Long-Term

In my home, sugar is the spice of life. It is our guilty pleasure. Sweet tea, cookies, baking, cakes with frosting, sweet carrots, endless homemade sweets, and treats. Mary Poppins got it right, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down – no matter what ails you.

various types of sugar stored in Tupperware and glass jars
Once open, I repackage in handy-sized containers to reduce exposure to air.

We love our sugar! As a disabled person, going shopping is not something I can just go do whenever we need something. I buy almost everything I can in bulk.

Sugar is one of those items that can be stored for a really long time if packaged correctly. Storing sugar is as easy as keeping it away from moisture and in an airtight container. It can be stored in a cool, dark place like a pantry, or in the fridge or the deep freeze.

Using food-grade buckets or containers is a convenient way to seal in flavor and seal out bugs.

Sugar does not support microbial growth, and therefore has an unlimited shelf life. You do not need to use an O2 absorber when storing sugar. For all types of sugar, an airtight container or packaging is all that is needed.

Let us look at how to store sugar long term to retain the flavor, whether it’s white or brown sugar.

When I say ‘container’ I do not mean you need to go out and spend a lot of money on storage containers. You can use clean, dry ice cream tubs, glass coffee bottles, Tupperware, or anything that seals up nicely.

But I love my canning jars. They seal nicely so I do not need to worry about air or moisture getting in or out. Canning jars also ensure that my sugar is not exposed to any odors or flavors floating around.

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Storing White Sugar

Many people prefer white sugar as it is cheaper than any other sugar, and is sold in larger, bulk bags.

White sugar can be bought in buckets or packets; the only thing needed to store white sugar long-term is to put it into a covered glass or plastic container. If you live in a humid area, you should not store sugar in cans as sugar corrodes metal.

Because of the quantity of sugar used, most hotels, B&Bs, and big companies purchase sugar in #10 cans. These are great for long-term storage as they last 30 years unopened. Once they are open, the sugar needs to be used within one year.

If you have opened the can, I suggest you repackage the sugar into more practical portions in Ziplock bags, glass jars, or plastic containers. The cans should always be stored in a cool, dark space, and must always be kept dry.

Remember that metal rusts, and also that sugar corrodes metal. If the cans become wet, and you have built up a good supply of sugar, you may find yourself reaching for a can and finding it damaged. If you live in a very humid area, I do not recommend storing sugar in cans.

I buy my sugar in big 2 kgs / 4.4 lbs packets which I then put into clean, dry, containers which I store in the fridge once opened. It can be stored in the deep freeze too, but we have limited space in the deep freeze.

My daughter is single, I am still her mom, and always try to purchase some essentials for her when I visit.

I buy her a 2 kgs / 4.4 lbs pack of sugar and Ziplock sandwich bags that she decants the sugar into, and stores in her freezer. She only uses one Ziplock a month, so the large pack goes a long way.

Mason jar of light brown sugar in fridge
White and light brown sugar last longer in a cool, dark environment like the fridge or freezer.

Unopened packets I store in my pantry in hold-alls.

If you want to store white sugar, don’t just do it in its original paper packaging bag. You can keep it in the paper bag, but store the whole bag in an airtight container.

The paper packaging can cause lumps to form because of humidity in the air. It is best to keep it dry.

If your white sugar does harden, do not despair. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the sugar on the tray.

Place the tray into the oven at 390 F / 200 C for ten to fifteen minutes. Turn the oven off, but leave the tray in the oven for an hour. You will be able to loosen the granules easily with a fork, and your sugar will be good as new.

Storing Brown Sugar

There are different grades of brown sugar…

Light Brown Sugar

Where I live, we have a very light-colored brown sugar that is almost white, and needs to be stored the same way as white sugar – in airtight containers.

two mason jars with light brown sugar
Light brown sugar can be stored in glass or plastic. In this photo, you can see it in airtight mason jars.

It has the same texture as white sugar and does not contain much moisture, so I keep mine in the deep freeze or refrigerator, in its original packaging inside an airtight container or decanted into a glass when opened.

It can be stored in its plastic packaging or in a Ziplock bag in a hold-all too, so you do not need to sacrifice space in the fridge.

brown sugar in glass jar
brown sugar in glass jar

Dark Brown, or Treacle Sugar

We use brown sugar more than white sugar. So, we normally buy light brown sugar as it is cheaper than REAL brown sugar. I always keep a few bags of the real deal as I love the taste it gives in tea.

Brown Sugar Lasts Longer in Glass

What I term REAL brown sugar is normally sold in plastic packets. These packets are air and moisture-tight (to seal the moisture IN), so as long as the packet is sealed no further treatment is needed.

It is important to note that brown sugar contains moisture. While with white sugar you are trying to seal moisture out, with brown sugar you are trying to lock the moisture in. You do not want to expose it to air.

The brand I buy comes in a resealable Ziplock bag, which is very convenient. You can purchase Ziplock bags to seal the sugar in yourself.

real brown sugar in a resealable Bag
REAL brown sugar in a resealable Bag

Having sold Tupperware many years ago, I know their containers are of great quality as they have a great airtight seal that allows you to ‘burp’ the container to remove air. Canning jars lock out the air nicely and retain flavor as well.

brown sugar in tupperware container

(REAL) Brown sugar must never be stored in the fridge as the low temperature will cause it to harden. On the packaging, you will see that it is recommended that you use it within six months of purchase.

That recommendation is based on the package being opened, and not put into an airtight container. I have never thrown brown sugar out. It stays fresh and tasty in my Tupperware container.

It does not last as long as white sugar because of the moisture content. It can last up to a year if properly stored.

If you do have a bag of brown sugar that has gone hard, place a slice of bread in with the sugar for one day. The bread will moisten the sugar, restoring it to its original state.

Storing Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar should always be stored in an airtight container. If you buy smaller bags, you can fit these into any plastic container, and they will last many years.

Powdered sugar is not packaged in large bags, so it does not take up a lot of space in your pantry. You can fit several small packets into a repurposed ice cream tub. Powdered sugar actually lasts longer than any other sugar if it is in an airtight container.

sugar in plastic bag stored inside re-purposed icecream container
A repurposed ice cream tub is great for storing sugar in its original plastic packaging.

Storing Honey

I have to admit I’m a big fan of honey. Whether I am making iced tea, roasting chicken, or warding off infection, my go-to is honey.

At the first sign of a cold or flu, I grab a bottle of honey for the potentially sick person, and over a day we just take a mouthful every hour. It is a natural antibiotic. No side effects!

Honey lasts for ages (when no one is sick or drinking iced tea). I like to transfer my honey into glass jars – canning jars – because it lasts longer, and if it does crystalize it is easy to melt at low heat.

I love it when I find honey that is packaged in glass jars. It makes storage easier and I keep the jars for future projects. I do rotate the jars so that we are always using the jar that has been in the pantry the longest.

Decanting Honey

I use jars that hold 250ml. I use a flatter jar for honey so that if it crystalizes it melts down quicker. I just place the jar in warm water until it is usable.

decanting honey into glass jar
I decant honey into glass jars to retain the flavor and to make it easy to re-melt.

Honey lasts forever (literally) and retains all its nutritional qualities. If it crystallizes it is easy to melt down. Its antimicrobial properties ensure that nothing grows in it – no bacteria, fungus, etc.

Storing Agave

Agave is a great natural sweetener to cook with. It does have a shelf life of two years. Store it in airtight containers and make sure you rotate packets so that you’re using the packet that is the oldest first.

And be sure to keep it away from heat, not that it goes bad or anything, it just tends to harden and get clumpy.

It is gaining popularity worldwide, but it is not available everywhere, and where it is available it is rather pricey.

Storing Icing Sugar and Castor Sugar

Confectionary sugar can last up to eighteen months if it is stored in an airtight container. Both glass and plastic containers work well.

Storing Artificial Sweeteners

If you prefer to use artificial sweeteners, these can also be stored for up to two years in very tightly sealed containers.

I recommend you use proper Tupperware containers as you can ‘burp’ the air out of the container, extending the lifespan of the sweetener.


Glass and plastic are sugar’s best friends when it comes to long-term storage. Ziplock bags are also a great tool for storing sugar. Especially if you are single, it is always best to open only what you will use within a month at a time.

Decant what you will use into your containers or Ziplock bags and store safely until needed. You do not want to expose five pounds of sugar to air over three months because you needed to open a packet of sugar.

I recommend that you take the time to write the date on each bag as you buy sugar. Always put the newest bags at the back.

Storing your sugar in airtight containers, hold-alls, or food-grade buckets will also help protect your sugar from ants and other creepy crawlies.

Very few things annoy me more than opening a fancy sugar pot to discover it has been invaded – which is why these are not for storage, just for serving.

Sugar absorbs odors too, which is why airtight containers are so important. You do not want sugar sitting open next to garlic. Anything with a strong odor will affect the taste of the sugar. Make sure you keep anything stinky away from your sugar.

Always check the package in the shop before you buy it. Make sure there are no holes in the packaging.

Check for leaks, and check if the package stays inflated when you gently squeeze it. Holes in the packaging mean the sugar is not airtight, so it could clump up over time.

Nothing beats canning jars for storing food long-term. What do you do to preserve your sugar for longer? Let us know in the comments below.

storing sugar Pinterest image

7 thoughts on “Here’s How to Store Sugar Long-Term”

  1. I was just in Costco yesterday, and say a 50 lb. bag of powdered sugar. I suppose restaurants buy that much. I buy in 10 lb.bags and put it in airtight plastic bins.

  2. I have some large lug lid jars in going to put my sugar in, I really need my mason jars for canning. Thanks for the informative article!

  3. If I store sugar in an airtight container and put it in a cargo box will it get rotten cargo box is not cool in fact it gets pretty hot in the summer I just didn’t want to store a lot and have it go bad

      1. Di-Anne,

        I can’t thank you enough for this information. I’ve recently become the live in caretaker of my best friends deceased mother’s estate. The issue is that part of my agreement is that I not only take care of the property, but get it cleaned and do any repairs that are necessary as well. This is all enough work but there are two spoiled adult grandchildren that live here that have essentially turned me into their maid. I get on top of one issue and clean one part of the home only to have another issue the next day – it is never ending.

        Fortunately when I am able to find credible information on what behaviors they shouldn’t continue, I am empowered through my best friend (their uncle) and his brother to enforce new rules they otherwise would ignore.

        I just needed to throw out an entire pantry worth of flour and different sugars due to improper storage and ensuing weevil/ant infestations. I was having trouble achieving compliance from the grandchildren but I was able to print out this information and give it to the uncle/father who then enforced my “mean rules” about cleaning up after oneself after using the kitchen as well as storing all sugars and starches appropriately from here on out.

        Rather than begin every day by cleaning the same messes I had cleaned the night before I am now able to move on to other projects that need my attention. I can’t thank you enough…I may still feel as Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain eternally, but with information like this I am able to at the very least carve out a foothold in the mountain and take a small break before I continue. Thank you!


    Growing up in New York (I’m 64 years old) my Mom, Grandma, and Great grand ma etc. When the brown sugar would get clumpy, they would piece of white bread to absorb the moisture. Then you can remove the clumps with a fork. Ready to use.

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