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I have a 1kg bag of Youngs Brewing and Winemaking Sugar. It was bought early last year, and the pack has a Best Before date of 08/08/12. I was hoping to use it for bottle priming next week. Does sugar 'go off'?

(It's a white very fine and light powder, with no more markings on the packet to show exactly what type of sugar it is)

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Unless there's something else in the packet besides sugar, I don't think it can ever "go off". I think the worse thing that can happen to sugar if left on its own for too long is that it might change texture and get lumpy, and that can be easily remedied. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 22 '13 at 14:02
    
@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner your comment is easily good enough to be an answer. –  mdma Mar 22 '13 at 17:17
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2 Answers

I wouldn't have even cared on looking the best before date and would have just used it, but your question is intriguing!

I found an article claiming that most sugars don't actually go bad.

Dry Malt Extract and Liquid Malt Extract on the other hand are better used fresh from what I have been reading. Not sure exactly what goes bad there though (perhaps someone could enlighten that).

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I saw an experiment a while ago in which a person did four batches using malt extract. One batch new LME, one batch year old LME, one batch new DME, and one batch year old DME. In comparison the old LME was much darker in color than the newer LME. The old DME was much lighter in color than the newer DME. I've also done batches with year old LME and DME. The DME was definitely much lighter than the LME (something around 5 srm for the DME and 15 srm for the LME). –  roto Mar 22 '13 at 12:51
    
I think (in the UK at least) that Best Before and Use By on food stuffs mean different things. Best Before seems to be an arbitrary date that's required, almost like a food quality guarantee. Use By is more serious, and appears on Meat, Dairy, stuff that can carry or produce nasties. I think... guess... No, postulate :) –  Mere Development Mar 22 '13 at 17:02
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+1 sugar doesn't oxidize at room temperature and can be kept indefinitely, unlike malt extracts, in which various oxidized compounds release oxygen, contributing to oxidization and staling. –  mdma Mar 22 '13 at 17:23
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In the US, too, "Best Before" is entirely arbitrary, to the point where buying expired goods and changing the date is not considered fraud. I read of a case where a dollar store did that with salad dressing, was sued by the manufacturer, and the manufacturer lost on the basis that the date didn't really mean anything. Use by, however, is meaningful and implies spoilage. –  Chris Travers Mar 24 '13 at 0:36
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Absolutely unimportant until the malt extract is opened, within reason. "Within reason" being on the scale of years."

For priming sugar, you've got almost nothing to worry about.

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