13 Jun2012

Many recipes for cakes, cookies and baked goods call for the use of some baking powder. The baking powder works to help the cake or batter rise. If you use baking powder that is no longer active, your baked goods will be heavy and dense, and sometimes, the inactive baking powder can ruin the results. So here’s an easy way to check if your baking powder is still active… just place a teaspoon or less in a small bowl and pour some very hot or boiling water over the baking powder and it should bubble up and froth. If it doesn’t, throw it out and buy a new can. In the Philippines, I find that baking powder rarely lasts more than 5-6 months when stored in a cool, dark pantry. I am not sure if it lasts longer in the fridge, but basically, it “expires” quite quickly. Baking soda, on the other hand lasts much longer than baking powder, apparently a couple of years or so. To check if the baking soda is still good, place some in a bowl and add some vinegar and it should froth and bubble up. If the baking soda is “dead”, then use it to clean stuff instead, and get some new baking soda for your cooking/baking needs.



  1. Connie C says:

    Thanks for the tip, MM. Now I don’t have to do it blindly using both baking soda and baking powder…just in case.

    Jun 13, 2012 | 7:31 am


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  3. Zerho says:

    Really love this blog, did not even know that baking powder/baking soda “expire” thought they just last forever… Got to tell my mom about this, no wonder some of her cakes have the tendency to hit and miss

    Jun 13, 2012 | 8:39 am

  4. Ellen says:

    Many thanks for this tip, Marketman.

    Jun 13, 2012 | 9:27 am

  5. jakespeed says:

    Great tip. I didn’t know this and the only indicator I use as a reference that it is expired is by the expiration date.

    Jun 13, 2012 | 10:14 am

  6. millet says:

    thanks, MM. really helpful!

    Jun 13, 2012 | 11:27 am

  7. belle says:

    Awesome tip MM! Now I know why even if the package says it’s not expired, the powder seems to be useless. I’ve always thought it was because of changing temperatures inside the house. Very informative, thanks!

    Jun 13, 2012 | 11:47 am

  8. Susan says:

    Thanks for this tip!

    Jun 13, 2012 | 4:16 pm

  9. EJ says:

    Expired baking soda is also useful for absorbing smells inside one’s fridge.

    Jun 13, 2012 | 5:36 pm

  10. PITS, MANILA says:

    Very good tips, MM! Thanks.

    Jun 13, 2012 | 7:23 pm

  11. Footloose says:

    This is probably why baking powder is sold in small packets here and in Europe, for the occasional baker. For frequent home bakers though, it’s still not a bad idea to get the smaller container (225g here) so your supply is always fresh and recently replenished.

    Btw, I have been getting great results with a shopao dough that calls for baking powder on top of the normal yeast. Soft, moist and no wrinkles. I got it from here: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-bao7-2009oct07,0,7536561.story

    Jun 13, 2012 | 8:35 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Footloose, thanks for that link. I have made siopao/bao maybe ten times in the last year and haven’t never been satisfied with the results! So I will have to give this recipe a try… Thanks!

    Jun 13, 2012 | 9:16 pm

  13. Mimi says:

    I agree with Footloose that the smaller packet of baking powder is a better buy. I took a smiling pau class before and the Chinese teacher said that double action baking powder is best for steamed pau (rather than just baking powder).

    Jun 14, 2012 | 10:55 am

  14. Pink Carnations says:

    Thanks lots for the tip Marketman!!

    Jun 14, 2012 | 12:15 pm

  15. PizzaBoy says:

    Have you guys tried baking a waffle? hehe. why don’t you guys try this recipe. hehe


    • 3 large eggs, separated
    • Pinch cream of tartar
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon, melted
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Strawberry Sauce:
    • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    Powdered sugar, for topping
    Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with a hand mixer until stiff peaks appear.
    In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons melted butter.
    Into a large bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
    Combine with the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. Fold the whites into the batter, gently.
    Grease the waffle iron with a small amount of melted butter and heat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    Ladle batter onto the waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
    For the strawberry sauce:
    In a small pot over medium heat, combine the strawberries, sugar, water, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer and whisk gently until mixture thickens slightly.

    I wish I could show you some pics. :) can’t post some pictures here

    Jun 14, 2012 | 1:13 pm

  16. ted says:

    @EJ, I also put a box baking soda in my fridge to get rid of the stale smell. Question is, can this still be used for baking?

    Jun 15, 2012 | 2:19 am

  17. Mimi says:

    ted: I don’t think so. Just get another box specifically for baking/cooking. I would also put the opened baking soda box for cooking/baking in a zipbag to keep it fresh. Do this also for yeast.

    Jun 15, 2012 | 7:57 am

  18. Korat Farang says:

    Thanks for the tip on how to test to see if the stuff is still active. I didn’t even know it could go dead! I learned something today.

    What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?

    Jun 15, 2012 | 7:12 pm

  19. corrine says:

    Mimi, how long does your yeast last? It’s a problem in the Philippines because I rarely see small packets of yeast in the groceries. After opening, I put the rest in a bottle and store in the fridge. Usually I can’t finish a box so I end up throwing it after a short time in the fridge. Sayang!

    Jun 15, 2012 | 10:38 pm

  20. Mimi says:

    corrine: I buy the 4 oz jar of Fleischmann’s dry active yeast here. I make bread at least once a month, so the jar is empty less than 6 months. After opening the jar, I put the whole jar inside a ziplock bag and remove all the air before zipping and I do keep it in the fridge. It is fresher compared to having the jar just in the pantry. I also proof the yeast in warm water to see if it foams in 10 minutes. As for expiry, I would do the proof test first, and as long as the yeast foams it is good to use.

    Jun 16, 2012 | 1:04 pm

  21. Vettievette says:

    I’ve also found that 1 tsp baking soda to 1 litre of water is a great way to get pesticides, etc. off my veggies and fruit vs. just running them under the faucet.

    @Corrine and Mimi: as for yeast, I put mine in a mason jar and stick it in the freezer. It lasts quite long this way.

    Jun 16, 2012 | 3:45 pm

  22. Footloose says:

    I received a half a kilo sample of instant dry yeast from a bakery show once and stored it in a Tupperware container. It went dead after three years. I then spread it on a cookie sheet lined with paper and baked it at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes and used it as dough relaxer for rolled out and laminated dough such as for puff pastry and croissant.

    Jun 16, 2012 | 10:31 pm


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