Baking soda is one of those ingredients that simply may not get a lot of use in some households. Because of this, many of us have found ourselves face to face with some labels that look suspiciously like they date from the nineties. So, when this happens, it can be tough to know what to do, right? Do you think, “this could be 25 years old, I had better throw it out”, or do you just simply judge that “it’s probably fine” and dive in? It can be a tough call to make, and if you are here you’re probably in the camp that decides to sit between these two extremes and do some research.
Great! There’s a lot to be said for getting all of the facts you can to back up a decision before you fully commit, and who knows, you might even learn a few extra things along the way.
The Best Way to Store Baking Soda
There really isn’t too much that can go wrong when it comes to storing baking soda for optimal shelf life. Unlike most food products, it won’t be too affected by such elements as heat, sunlight, and cold. Because of this, it is indeed very likely that you are already storing perfectly adequately. However, keeping it dry is pretty important as in some areas, even the steam generated in your kitchen can have a slightly acidic content.
The best way to do this is to keep it away from areas that generate a lot of steam and moisture. Keep it away from dishwashers. Keep it well clear of the sink. Don’t store it above your stovetop. In the back of a dry cabinet, in a baking box or even in a Ziploc bag is the ideal place for it to be kept. It is also worth remembering that baking soda has other uses outside of cooking. If yours accidentally gets exposed to some moisture, simply repurpose it as a household cleaning product!
How Long Does Baking Soda Last?
Baking soda is one of those rare ingredients that is probably still fine once it’s gone by its sell by date by a large margin. In a post-apocalyptic world, survivors may still be able to enjoy a decent bake that rises, so long as that baking soda was stored correctly in the first place. Though it is true that older baking soda will not provide the same amount of rise as a newer example, it will still be safe to eat. Rather annoyingly for the process of describing how long baking soda will last for, many brands come without a sell by date. This is testament to how resilient a product it really is.
As a guideline then, we would suggest that you consume an unopened package within two years of purchasing it. As for opened packages, we would say that it is best consumed within 6 months from the opening date. In general though, it is worth noting that not much can make baking soda truly go off in a dramatic way. This leads us nicely into our next section…
Signs That Your Baking Soda May Have Gone Off
Baking soda can be a little tricky in this regard as it doesn’t provide the usual signs of spoilage that other food produce might. It doesn’t go moldy or smell bad, and we wouldn’t recommend giving it a taste test to see! The best way to see for sure if your baking soda has gone off is to first examine the packaging itself. Does it look as though the packaging itself has gotten wet at any point? If so, it may have diminished in quality. From here, the next step is to have a look at the contents themselves. Seeing as baking soda is only activated by acid, it may still be fine to use. However, if it has come into contact with some lemon juice or something similar what you need to look for is evidence of any bubbling caused by that chemical reaction. If you see any evidence of this, it is better to immediately discard it rather than taking the chance. For the increasingly curious amongst you, there are further tests you can conduct to see if your baking soda is still good to use.
How to test if your baking soda still works
Here is a really simple test that anyone can do at home that will make you feel like a scientist. Remember those science projects that you would do in school that would call for you to recreate a volcano erupting? Well, this is the same thing in the adult world! That experiment used only baking soda, vinegar, and food colouring. For this one, all you will need is your baking soda and an acid of any sort (lemon juice or vinegar are perfect). Here is how it is done:
Put a spoonful of your baking soda into a bowl
Add a splash of something acidic
And that’s it! If the mixture fizzes, it will be good for baking with, whereas if there is no real reaction it is not fit for purpose.
Should Baking Soda be Refrigerated?
We have all come across people who just want to store everything that is even remotely related to food in the fridge, and to us, putting baking soda in the fridge or the freezer just sounded like the strangest idea. But, amazingly, people are doing this habitually. We can tell you unreservedly that this is a bad idea, however. Putting it in the fridge or freezer won’t extend its shelf life, and may actually reduce it! However, there is one context where putting baking soda in the fridge is highly effective. If there are strong odours in your fridge, place an open container with some baking soda in there and it will actively absorb and trap the undesired smells.
Baking Soda Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
How long does baking soda last after packaging?
Provided that baking soda is stored correctly, and away from moisture and acidic substances, it can last indefinitely. For this reason, there are many manufacturers of the product that opt not to put a sell by date on their product.
What exactly is baking soda?
Baking soda is the simple chemical compound, sodium bicarbonate. When this compound comes into contact with heat, it releases its carbon dioxide and makes your baked goods rise.
Are there any good substitutes for baking soda?
There are a few reasonably decent substitutes that are readily available out there. Baking powder can also be used to give your baked goods the desired rise. Potassium bicarbonate and salt combined can also be quite effective. In a pinch, we would recommend using either baker’s ammonia or self-raising flour.
Is it possible to be allergic to baking soda?
Baking soda is not known to cause allergic reactions when consumed, so if you are experiencing allergic symptoms after eating baked goods, it is more than likely that something else is causing this. However, some people experience some redness of the skin and occasionally even some swelling and burning after extended contact.
What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Both products are leavening agents, designed to help baking to rise. The difference is that baking soda needs an acidic substance to activate it. Baking powder, on the other hand, is known as a complete leavening agent. This is because it contains both the base (the sodium bicarbonate) and the acid that is needed to kick start the leavening process.