It includes some ideas we've heard before, like putting a slice of bread or some apple slices on top of the sugar, sealing it up, and letting it sit for a day or two. That's all fine and good if you have a day or two. We needed our sugar right away.
So, we tried the trick of putting a moist paper towel in a plastic bag with the sugar and microwaving it for 20 seconds. We supposed you could do it in a glass bowl topped with a plate, to avoid the plastic angle, but our sugar was already in a plastic bag, so...
Our verdict? Worked like a charm. We had to add another 10 seconds after the initial 20, and we still needed to press and pinch the big lumps a little, but eventually they yielded into soft, pliable piles of ready-to-use sugar. (We should note that we took these photos before we finished mushing. Those hunks really did break down.)
If you don't use brown sugar regularly and encounter this problem often, consider buying a terra cotta brown sugar saver. Or, moisten a piece of clean terra cotta from a planter and make a DIY version.Related: Quick 'n' Easy: Ways to Soften Butter
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)