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How to Test the Effectiveness of Baking Powder and Baking Soda


How long should you keep Baking Powder and Baking Soda? … How do I know if it’s still good to use? … What happens if I keep it too long? … these questions come up all the time and are very good ones… so I decided to do a post on just these questions.

There’s a wide variety of brands available for both Baking Soda and Baking Powder, including generic store brands. How do you know which one to use? Unfortunately there really isn’t an answer to that question, each home cook and home baker has their own opinion based on experience.

I’ve used both name brands and store brands, and honestly, there isn’t a lot of difference. I have noticed there seems to be a difference in expiration dates, the best rule of thumb for that is, go by the expiration date on the box or container.

How Long Should You Keep Baking Powder or Baking Soda?

As I just mentioned, I would go by the expiration dates on the box. Generally, most say to keep the baking powder 6 months to a year, depending on the brand. Most Baking Soda brands list 3 months as the maximum time to keep it in the cupboard.

How Do You Know if it’s Still Good to Use?

You can do a simple test to make sure the Baking Powder or Baking Soda is still “active”.

To Test Baking Powder:

Place a ½ cup hot tap water in a measuring cup, then add 1 teaspoon baking powder. If it immediately bubbles up, it’s still good. If it doesn’t bubble up… it’s time to replace it.



To Test Baking Soda:

Place 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a small custard cup, then add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to it. It should bubble up immediately if it’s still good.



What Happens if You Keep it Too Long?

Let me tell you about this…. I did this… I kept the baking soda way too long. What happened was that, over time, it became less and less effective. My Banana Bread recipe, something I make fairly often, calls for baking soda. Over time, my banana breads rose less and less, I hadn’t even really noticed until one afternoon my banana bread came out of the oven looking absolutely pitiful. I replaced the baking soda and my next batch of banana bread was back to its old self… the difference was amazing.

So the lesson here is… don’t do as I did… follow the expiration dates .. or if the box doesn’t have an expiration date…you can test the effectiveness.. but at least follow the rule of thumb… don’t keep baking soda longer than 3 months or baking powder longer than a year.

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