How long does baking powder last? Can it go bad?
Baking powder is a kitchen staple that most of us have, and it seems it can almost last forever. This is a leavening agent that releases carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with moisture. The air bubbles it produced allow baked goods like cakes and bread to expand and become lighter and airy while baking. Baking powder is ideally used if the recipe does not call for an acidic ingredient. After all, baking powder already contains an acid!
Sometimes, baking powder is often mistaken for baking soda. Both ingredients may look the same and similarly function as leavening agents, but they are actually different from each other.
Baking soda is purely sodium bicarbonate. In other words, it needs a combination of acid and a liquid to activate its leavening properties. Baking powder, on the other hand, has sodium bicarbonate and an acid. Hence, you will only need some liquid to activate it.
Just by looking at a pack or a jar of baking powder, we may say that it is still good even if it has been sitting in the pantry untouched for months and even up to years. It has then come to a point when you ask the question: “Does it ever expire?” “Is that still safe to use?” “Can it still produce carbon dioxide to expand my baked goods?” Well, baking powder is just a powdered ingredient anyway. So what bad can happen to it as long as it doesn’t get wet?
One way to see it if it still functions well as a leavening agent in your baked goods is to test its potency.
This post will talk about shelf life, storage, spoilage, and testing the potency of baking powder.
Let’s dive in!
How To Store Baking Powder?
Baking powder has two kinds: single-acting baking powder and double-acting baking powder. The difference? A single-acting baking powder only reacts once with a liquid while the double-acting baking powder reacts two times, first when it comes into contact with moisture and then second when it is heated. Whichever kind you have or bought, the storage method is the same.
Storing baking powder is as easy as storing other powdered products like baking soda, cream of tartar, or wheat flour. You can keep it in its original package and put it in a cool, dry place like your kitchen cabinet or pantry.
Always make sure to keep your baking powder away from moisture. Once you opened a new pack of baking powder, make sure to seal it tightly before storing it back to its place.
When not in use, always keep your baking powder dried and covered.
Can it go bad?
As mentioned in the beginning, baking powder has an expiration. And it takes a little trick to find out if it has already lost its potency.
Here is the thing. It is pretty safe to use baking powder that seems to last indefinitely. But, it also loses its strength as a leavening agent as time passes. Let us say that your baked goods may not rise appropriately as they should, or it won’t rise at all, and it will make it flat and dense. Therefore, it is still better to use baking powder before it expires if you want your baked goods’ best results.
How long does it last?
Baking powder usually comes with an expiration date or “best by” date. This information will tell you how long it retains its maximum potency. The shelf life of baking powder can reach about 9 to 12 months.
The labels are just a rough estimate of its expiration. If you have an unopened pack of baking powder that has passed its expiration date, you can still actually use it in the next three months. However, that does not guarantee that your expired baking powder is still potent enough to work on your baked goods. The quickest and best way to know is to test the potency before using it.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
Baking powder is sensitive to humidity and moisture. Take note that once you have it opened, the air gets to the container. That is the moment your baking powder starts to lose its potency bit by bit.
If your opened baking powder has stayed for six months, you will need to check if it can work well as a leavening agent before using it.
Clumps will form if water has found its way inside the package or container. Make sure to not let this happen, or else this will make your baking powder useless. So if the powder is clumpy, wet, or there are any signs of organic growth, throw the powder out.
In measuring baking powder, make sure to use a dry measuring utensil and recap the lid immediately after using it. Using a moistened or wet spoon or scoop will create a reaction inside the container or package!
Again, baking powder comes with an expiration date, as indicated in the label. But if you really want to accurately tell whether or not you should use it or replace it, there is a way to test its potency.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find any visible signs that tell us if the baking powder is still potent. That’s why you will have to test it. Whether you have single-acting or double-acting baking powder, here is how to test it:
- Prepare a cup of water and a teaspoon of baking powder.
- Dump a teaspoon of baking powder into the cup with hot water. Try to see if it produces bubbles and releases carbon dioxide gas. If yes, then your baking powder is still fresh and potent enough for use.
- If you see fewer bubbles to none, then that’s a sign that you should discard it.
You should not be fretting over disposed of old-stored baking powder. Why? It would be less expensive if you just throw it away rather than use it and end-up having a ruined cake or whatever baked goodies you made. Baking powder is usually inexpensive, and it would be best to get a new package so that you will have a good end result for your finished product.
If you happen to have already run out of baking powder, you may find other leavening alternatives that may be available in your kitchen.
Can I store the baking powder in the refrigerator?
It is not advisable to store baking powder inside the refrigerator and definitely not inside the freezer. Why? The condensation inside your refrigerator can create moisture inside the package or container. Water or moisture plus baking soda will produce a reaction that will eventually decrease its potency as a leavening agent. This is why you should store your baking powder in a kitchen cabinet or pantry away from heat and excess moisture.