Baking soda is one of the essential ingredients when it comes to baking. A lot of people confuse it for baking powder. However, baking soda is much stronger compared to baking powder.
The two cannot be used interchangeably. If you want to substitute baking powder with baking soda, you should use a quarter of the amount of baking powder.
I am not a baker, so things like cakes and cookies have never been a regular on my menu. My baking essentials tend to last for a really long time. I honestly can’t remember exactly when I bought the baking soda that is in my pantry right now. I probably bought it two or three months ago.
Does baking soda go bad? Baking soda does not go bad, however, it loses its potency. This means that the baking soda will no longer work the way it is supposed to. Luckily, you can easily confirm whether the baking soda is still potent. You can use potent baking soda even if it has lasted past its best-by date. It will still be safe to consume.
Baking soda that has stayed for a very long time may not give you the best results, but that does not mean there is anything wrong with it. Its leavening action has simply reduced.
Baking soda never has an expiration date, so it is up to you to check and decide whether it is still good enough to use.
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Exactly how long does baking soda last?
As I said, baking soda can last for an indefinite period. However, its quality deteriorates with time. For this reason, I recommend using baking soda within six months of opening its original package for the best results.
Store the baking soda properly after opening so that it does not lose its potency quickly. An unopened package of baking soda can last up to two years and still give you amazing results.
As much as you can use baking soda way past its best-by date, I recommend checking its potency first before using it. Baking soda does not retain its good quality and leavening properties forever. You may use it as it is only to realize that it is no longer potent.
That would be such a waste of baking essentials. Say no to baking disasters by sparing a few minutes to check for the potency of baking soda.
Checking the potency of baking soda.
Let us say you’ve had that package of baking powder in your pantry for the longest time. You don’t bake much, so you have used it two or three times.
The cookies cravings suddenly hit and you badly want to make some. What do you do? Do you head out to buy new baking powder or do you risk it and just use the one that has been sitting in your pantry for the longest time? My advice is, none of the above.
If you go buy a new pack, you will probably just waste money and after you bake the cookies, it will also stay in the pantry for another month or two. If you risk it and use it, you may end up with a baking disaster and waste a lot of baking ingredients in the process.
My simple advice is to check the potency of the baking soda. You will have nothing to lose. Besides, it will only take a minute or two of your time. Pretty convenient, right? There is a simple test you can use to check whether the baking soda is still potent and good enough to use in baking. Here is how to check for the potency.
What you will need:
- Vinegar/ lemon juice
- In your bowl, add three tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. Vinegar is most likely what you have in hand because it is quite cheap, so use it if you do not have any lemon juice.
- Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the bowl.
- Wait and observe if there is any kind of reaction.
If bubbles appear on the surface of the mixture and it fizzes, then your baking soda is still potent. If there are no bubbles whatsoever, then the baking soda is no longer potent and it will have no effect when used as an ingredient. Despite this, you do not have to throw it out. Baking soda is an amazing cleaning agent, so put it to good use.
How to properly store baking soda to extend its shelf life.
Like other baking products, you should store your baking soda in a cool dry place. Store the baking soda away from heat and moisture. You can store it in your pantry or kitchen cabinet. You should also store it far away from anything with strong odors because it tends to absorb such odors.
I don’t recommend storing baking soda inside the refrigerator. It will absorb the smell of other food items in the fridge and consequently become undesirable to use. It will also absorb moisture from inside the fridge which will tamper with its freshness and potency.
Once you open the package of your baking soda, make sure you reseal it tightly after every use. If the package cannot be resealed, transfer the baking soda to an airtight container. The airtight container will keep the bugs away and also prevent any moisture from getting into the baking soda.
Moisture and baking soda do not go together. It causes the baking soda to form lumps. It may also cause molds to form inside the package or container of your baking soda. If you notice that your baking soda is lumpy, appears discolored, or there are molds inside the container or package, just throw it out. It is no longer safe to use.
When to discard baking soda
Although baking soda does not go bad on its own, outside factors may make it unsafe to use. The main culprits are moisture and air circulation.
Here are a few instances when you should definitely throw out your baking soda.
- When there are molds inside the package or container.
Molds are usually an indication that moisture somehow got inside the container. Consequently, it provided molds with a conducive environment to grow. Do not try to salvage the baking soda by pouring it into another container. Throw it out because it is no longer safe to use.
- When the baking soda has wet clumps.
This is also another indication that the baking soda came into contact with moisture. Baking soda that has clumps has most likely lost its leavening properties. Throw it out.
- When the baking soda becomes discolored.
Discoloration is never a good sign when it comes to ingredients. Baking soda is usually white in color. If it appears yellowish in color, throw it out and purchase another one. Better safe than sorry, right?
- When the baking soda has a strong smell.
Like sugar, baking soda also tends to absorb the smell of anything stored close to it. If you at any time stored it close to something with a strong odor and it absorbs the smell, you may have to throw it out. The smell absorbed usually alters that of whatever you are preparing.
- When you find bugs inside the baking soda
Bugs have always been bad news whether dead or alive. If you take out your baking soda ready to use it and you notice dead bugs in the powder or you see live bugs rushing out of the package or container, it is time you throw out that baking soda.
Tips to keep your baking soda for longer.
- Store it in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.
Whether opened or unopened, baking soda should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light, heat and moisture. The pantry and the kitchen cabinet is your best bet.
- Airtight containers keep the baking soda safe.
Whereas the original package is the perfect way to store baking soda when unopened, it is definitely not the best place for storage when you have already unsealed it. The best thing to do is to transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep the bugs and moisture away.
- No refrigeration.
Your refrigerator may keep all your other food products fresh for longer but it is not the best place to store baking soda. The baking soda will absorb moisture and the smell of other food products in the fridge. Just use your pantry instead. It is cool and dry.
- Keep the bugs away.
If bugs manage to get into your baking soda, you will have no choice but to throw it out. Store the baking soda in an airtight container so that the bugs have no chance. Make sure you close the lid tightly after every use.
- Don’t store it close to anything with a strong smell.
Baking soda tends to absorb the smell of things close to it so store it with things that have little to no smell. Otherwise, you will not be able to use baking soda because of its strong smell.