baking powder shelf life

Baking Powder Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

If there is one thing every baker should always have, it is baking powder. It’s your go-to ingredient for any quick bread, pancakes, cakes, and any baked goods.

But, if you’re an occasional baker, or pancakes are not your regular thing, it takes a while to finish a can of baking powder. This leads to these recurring questions: Does baking powder go bad? How do you know whether the baking powder is still good?

Of course, anyone gets disappointed if their baked goods are not as light and fluffy as expected just because the leavening agent doesn’t work anymore.

Hence, in this article, will we share some knowledge about baking powder’s shelf life, its storage methods, how to test if baking powder is still active, etc. If this is what you are looking for, read on!

Jump into the FAQ section at the bottom of this article to find the nitty-gritty of baking powder!

How To Store Baking Powder

Baking powder is a leavening agent typically used for no-yeast baked goods. It is a mixture of baking soda, acids (usually cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate or sodium acid pyrophosphate), and a buffering ingredient (typically cornstarch).

Baking powder is sensitive to moisture and heat. Hence, when mixed into the dough, a chemical reaction takes place, and carbon dioxide is released. As a result, the dough rises, creating that tender and fluffy texture we all want with any baked goods.

Storage conditions for baking powder are similar to baking soda and other dry goods. A cool, dry area, out of heat and moisture, is the ideal place. Keep it safe and away from the stove, oven, sink, or dishwasher. Your pantry is an excellent place, but your kitchen cupboard or pantry is great too.

As mentioned earlier, baking powder is sensitive to heat and moisture. As soon as it gets into contact with water or moisture, it reacts and loses its power to leaven the dough.

If the package is not resealable, transfer any leftover powder into a sealed airtight container, or together with other baking essentials. Put a label to indicate when it’s open for the first time. 

Do you need to refrigerate or freeze baking powder?

Refrigeration and freezing are not necessary since the baking powder is not a perishable item. If you can’t assure any better place outside the refrigerator, Bob’s Redmill suggests to keep it in the freezer.

Keep in mind that you need to keep it dry all the time. Hence, double protection is recommended to avoid the effect of condensation.

How To Tell If Baking Powder Has Gone Bad

Similar to baking soda, baking powder also doesn’t spoil or go off like dairy or fresh produce does.

The utmost concern with baking powder is that baking powder tends to lose its power to raise your dough or batter. Since other ingredients are already added, baking powder is relatively more sensitive than baking soda. The degradation is usually more apparent with opened baking powder.

Any contact with heat or moisture means an end to this leavening agent. Thus, if you see clumps or lumpy powder, chances are the powder has lost its potency. In case of doubt, it’s always better to test it before adding it into the dough.

How do you test if baking powder is still good for baking?

That’s super easy and only takes a minute! The only thing you need is a cup of hot or warm water. Drop a teaspoon of baking powder into the water.

If it’s still active, there should be a vigorous bubbling reaction. If nothing happens, it’s time to get a new pack!

So, what can you do with baking powder that has lost its power?

Baking powder is basically baking soda with added ingredients. When it couldn’t serve its purpose as a leavening agent anymore, you can use it similarly to baking soda. These include cleaning your dishwasher, deodorizing the fridge, etc. 

How Long Does Baking Powder Last?

The average shelf life of baking powder is 18 to 24 months after its production date. This time frame is indicated by a “best by” or “best before” date before purchase. Of course, it may stay good after its recommended date, depending on your storage. (*)

After opening, it is generally good to use for 3 to 6 months. This estimate is a bit shorter than baking soda since it already has almost everything to get activated. Once moisture or liquid gets into contact, it reacts and won’t be any good to use.

Baking powderPantry
Baking powder (unopened)Best by date or 2 years
Baking powder (opened)3 to 6 months

This table is a rough estimate. The actual shelf life depends on storage conditions. Spare a few minutes for a quick test to ensure if it is still potent.


FAQs

Can you use expired or old baking powder for baking?

Unless other signs of spoilage such as molds or off-smell, etc., baking powder is generally safe to use after its expiration date. But you may want to check if it still holds its potency to raise the dough.

Do the quick test with dropping a teaspoon of baking powder into 1/3 cup of warm water. If it bubbles, feel free to use it. If not, why risk a disappointing result over an expired baking powder?

Is baking powder the same as baking soda?

Both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents for baking. Although commonly used interchangeably or as substitutes, baking powder is not similar to baking soda.

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, which is an alkaline base. It needs acidic ingredients to function, such as lime or lemon juice, buttermilk, applesauce, molasses, etc. Therefore, it is usually called for a recipe that also involves acidic ingredients, like the items above.

Meanwhile, baking powder consists of baking soda and acids. It only needs liquid to become activated. If you want to substitute one another, an adjustment is necessary.

What is double-acting baking powder?

In general, baking powder can be distinguished into single-acting and double-acting. The differences lie in the acids and how they react with the dough.

The double-acting kind is the most common one we find on the market, and also what most recipes call for. Two types of acids are used. One reacts soon after mixed with liquid, the other one reacts with heat in the oven.

What is aluminum-free baking powder?

Sodium aluminum phosphate and sodium aluminum sulfate are common acids used in baking powder production. But these ingredients result in a metallic aftertaste, which is undesirable for most people. Hence, manufacturers start to produce an aluminum-free product to meet consumers’ demand.

What are substitutes for baking powder?

Some alternatives for baking powder are easy to find in your kitchen, from the cream of tartar, vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, molasses, etc.

Final Thoughts

Baking powder is a baking essential for any amateur and professional baker. Unfortunately, baking powder also goes bad in the sense that it loses its power to raise the dough.

As a general guideline, baking powder usually lasts for 18 to 24 months in unopened containers and 3 to 6 months after opening. Keep it in a cool, dry area, away from heat and moisture.

If you have old baking powder or doubting if it’s still fresh. Do this quick test by pouring a teaspoon of the powder into warm water and see if a bubbling reaction happens. If not, better get a new pack!

Also check our other article that shares a comprehensive guide to choose the best substitutes for baking powder

baking powder expired

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