Updated from a 2007 post, with new photos, links, and a new printer-friendly recipe.
We have an elementary school science teacher in the family, so there is no excuse for the ignorance I am about to confess to you.
A few months ago, Ted and I found a jar of hard-as-a-rock brown sugar on the pantry shelves. (This is not the embarrassing part. Well, okay, it is embarrassing, but not from a science point of view.)
How could we get that solid sugar out of the jar? Chip away at it with a knife? Dangerous. Melt it in the microwave? Hot sugar -- very dangerous.
And then I remembered that there was something which, when placed in a jar of hardened sugar, would restore the sugar's moisture and fluffiness.
Eureka! I put a slice of whole wheat bread into the jar, sealed the top, and left it overnight. In the morning, the bread was hard as a rock, but the brown sugar was light and fluffy, completely restored to health.
To me, this was a miracle. How did the moisture pass from the bread to the sugar? Would something else (an apple? a damp paper towel?) do just as well? I can't explain how or why, but I can tell you that the bread really works. (Science teachers and other readers, please help.)