Monday, March 14, 2011

Questions For the Kitchen: How Long does Baking Soda Last?

Ah, baking soda. That little orange box that makes your baking tender and delicious, but also has a multitude of uses. If you don't bake a lot though, it can be sitting at the back of your cupboard for months.

How do you know if it's any good? Does it have an expiry date?

First, a bit of background on the stuff. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is about four times stronger that baking powder and is used in recipes with an acidic ingredient like sour cream, buttermilk, and chocolate. Baking soda neutralizes the acids in the recipe and gives you a tender crumb, along with some leavening. This is why, you should whisk your dry ingredients together so that your baking soda is evenly distributed throughout, or you can end up with large holes.

Generally, baking soda does have an indefinite shelf live, but it does lose it's effectiveness over time. A way to check that is to mix 1/4 tsp baking soda with 2 tsp of vinegar, and see if it bubbles immediately. If it does, you are good to go!

The best way to store your baking soda is in a sealed container. An open box on the shelf allows to to absorb all the lovely odors around it, which might not be what you want.

Happy baking!

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